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SERMONS 


FOR 


ALL  THE  SUNDAYS    IN  THE  YEAK. 


4 


SEKMOISTS 


FOB 


TRANSLATED  FEOM  THE  ITALIAN 

OF 

ST.  ALPHONSUS  M.  LIGUOBI, 

^is^op  of  Si.  &gs%, 
AND  FOUNDER  OF  THE  CONGREGATION  OF  THE  MOST  HOLY  REDEEMER. 


BY  THE  LATK 

VERY  REV.  NICHOLAS  CALLAN,  D.D., 

Cntbolic 


EIGHTH  EDITION. 


DUBLIN : 
JAMES  DUFFY  &  SONS,  15  WELLINGTON  QUAY; 

AT<D 

LONDON:    1  PATERNOSTER  ROW. 

1882. 


1P53 


DUBLIN  : 

bti  ffbmunb  HJnrhe  anb  Co., 

tJl   &  02   (JRKAT   STRAND   STREET. 


CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

OBJECT  OF  THE  WORK    .  .  1 

INSTRUCTIONS  TO  PREACHERS          .  .  3 

SERMON  I. — First  Sunday  of  Advent : 

On  the  General  Judgment  .         .         .         .17 

SERMON  II. — Second  Sunday  of  Advent : 

On  the  advantages  of  tribulations         .         .         .23 

SERMON  III. — Third  Sunday  of  Advent : 

On  the  means  necessary  for  salvation  .         .       32 

SERMON  IV. — Fourth  Sunday  of  Advent : 

On  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ  for  us,  and  on  our  obli 
gation  to  love  him         .         .         .         .         .37 

SERMON  V. — Sunday  within  the  Octave  of  the  Nativity: 

In  what  true  wisdom  consists      ....       43 

SERMON  VI.: 

On  the  malice  of  mortal  sin         .         .         .         .50 

SERMON  VII. — Second  Sunday  after  the  Epiphany : 

On  the  confidence  with  which  we  ought  to  recommend 

ourselves  to  the  Mother  of  God     .         .         .56 

SERMON  VIIL— Third  Sunday  after  the  Epiphany : 

On  the  remorse  of  the  damned      .         .         .       '.       64 

SERMON  IX. — Fourth  Sunday  after  the  Epiphany : 

Dangers  to  eternal  salvation       .  .         .         .         .       70 

SERMON  X. — Fifth  Sunday  after  the  Epiphany : 

On  the  pains  of  hell  .         .         .         .         .76 

SERMON  XL — Sixth  Sunday  after  the  Epiphany  : 

On  the  death  of  the  just       .         .         .         .       ..       83 


CONTEXTS. 


SERMON  XII.— Septuagesima  Sunday  : 

On  the  importance  of  salvation  93 

SERMON  XI II— Scxagesima  Sunday  : 

On  the  unhappy  life  of  sinners,  and  on  the  liappy 

ltfe  of  those  wJio  love  God     .  99 

SERMON  XIV.— Quinquagesima  Sunday: 

Decisions  of  sinners  .         .  107 

SERMON  XV.—  First  Sunday  of  Lent: 

On  the  number  of  sins  beyond  which  God  pardons 

no  more      ....  ]i o 

SERMON  XVL— Second  Sunday  of  Lent : 

On  heaven          .....  119 

SERMON  XVII.— Third  Sunday  of  Lent : 

On  concealing  sins  in  confession  .  125 

SERMON  XVIII. —Fourth  Sunday  of  Lent : 

On   the   tender   compassion  which   Jesus  Christ 

entertains  towards  sinners    .  132 

SERMON  XIX.— Passion  Sunday : 

On  the  danger  to  ivhich  tepidity  exposes  the  soul  .  138 
SERMON  XX.— Palm  Sunday  : 

On  the  evil  effects  of  bad  habits  .  ..145 

SERMON  XXL— Easter  Sunday : 

On  t/ie  miserable  state  of  relapsing  sinners  .  .152 
SERMON  XXII.— First  Sunday  after  Easter  : 

On  avoiding  the  occasions  of  sin  .  .  .159 
SERMON  XXIII. — Second  Sunday  after  Easter  : 

On  scandal  .  .  .  .  %  .  .  1GG 
SERMON  XXIV.— Third  Sunday  after  Easter : 

On  the  value  of  time  .  ,  .  .  .174 

SERMON  XXV.— Fourth  Sunday  after  Easter : 

On  obedience  to  your  confessor  .  .  .  .  181 
SERMON  XXVI. — Fifth  Sunday  after  Easter : 

On  the  conditions  of  prayer         .         .        .         .189 


CONTENTS. 


SERMON  XXVII.— Sixth  Sunday  after  Easter : 

On  human  respect      .        .         .         .         ,  I$Q 

SERMON  XXVIII—  Pentecost  Sunday  : 

On  conformity  to  the  will  of  God  .  .  .204 
SERMON  XXIX.— Trinity  Sunday  : 

On  the  love  of  the  Three  Divine  Persons  for  man  211 
SERMON  XXX.— First  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  charity  to  our  neighbour  .  .  .  218 

SERMON  XXXI. —Second  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  holy  communion  .  .  ,  .  ,228 

SERMON  XXXII.— Third  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  mercy  of  God  towards  sinners  .  .  235 

SERMON  XXXIII.— Fourth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

Death  is  certain  and  uncertain  .  .  .242 

SERMON  XXXIV — Fifth  Sunday  after  Pentecost  : 

On  the  sin  of  anger     ......     250 

SERMON  XXXV.— Sixth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  vanity  of  the  world  .  .  .  .259 

SERMON  XXXVI.— Seventh  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  education  of  children  ,  .  .  .266 
SERMON  XXXVIL— Eighth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  particular  Judgment  .  .  .  .276 
SERMON  XXXVIII,— Ninth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  death  of  the  sinner  .  .  .  ,285 

SERMON  XXXIX.— Tenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost :' 

On  the  efficacy  and  necessity  of  prayer  .  .292 
SERMON  XL. — Eleventh  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  tlie  vice  of 'speaking  immodestly  .  .  .  299 
SERMON  XLL— Twelfth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  abuse  of  divine  mercy  ....  305 
SERMON  XL1L— Thirteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  avoiding  bad  company   .         .  .         .313 


V111  CONTENTS. 


PAGE 


SERMON  XLIIL—  Fourteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost: 
All  ends  and  soon  ends         .         .         ,  .319 

SERMON  XLIV.— Fifteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 
On  the  practical  death,  or  on  what  ordinarily  hap 
pens  at  the  death  of  men  of  the  vjorld     .         .327 

SERMON  XL V.— Sixteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  impurity       .  .337 

SERMON  XLVL— Seventeenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 
On  the  love  of  God       .        .         .        .        .         .347 

SERMON  XL VII. —Eighteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 
On  bad  thoughts          ....  356 

SERMON  XL VIII. —Nineteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost: 
On  the  pain  of  loss  which  t/te  damned  suffer  in  hell    363 

SERMON  XLIX.— Twentieth  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  predominant  passion         .  372 

SERMON  L.— Twenty-first  Sunday  after  Pentecost : 

On  the  eternity  of  hell 380 

SERMON  LI.— Twenty-second  Sunday  after  Pentecost  : 
On  straits  and  anguish  of  dying  Christians  who  have 
been  negligent  during  life  about  the  duties  of 
religion 388 

SERMON  LIL— Twenty-third  Sunday  after  Pentecost  : 

On  impenitence  .  .  396 

SERMON  LI II. —Twenty-fourth  Sunday  after  Pentecost  : 
On  blasphemy     .         .         :  406 


OBJECT  OF  THE  WORK. 


THE  present  Work  is  entitled,  ABRIDGED  SERMONS 
FOR  ALL  THE  SUNDAYS  IN  THE  YEAR.  They  are 
called  Abridged  Sermons,  because,  although  each 
contains  abundant  matter  for  a  sermon,  the  senti 
ments  are  briefly  expressed — not,  however,  so 
briefly  as  to  render  the  sense  obscure.  Hence 
the  work  may  be  used  for  spiritual  lectures. 
Diffuseness  has  been  purposely  avoided,  that  the 
preacher  may  extend  the  subject  treated  in 
the  way  which  may  appear  best  to  him.  A 
preacher  will  scarce  ever  deliver,  with  zeal  and 
warmth,  sentiments  which  he  has  not  made  in 
some  manner  his  own.  Hence  the  matter  of  each 
sermon  has  been  condensed  into  a  small  compass, 
that  the  preacher  may  extend  it  according  to  his 
pleasure,  and  thus  make  it  his  own. 

In  each  sermon  there  are  many  passages  from 
the  Scriptures  and  Holy  Fathers,  and  a  variety 
of  reflections — perhaps  too  many  for  a  single  dis 
course — that  the  reader  may  select  what  will  be 
most  pleasing  to  him.  The  style  is  easy  and 
simple,  and  therefore  calculated  to  render  the 
preaching  of  the  Divine  Word  conducive  to  the 
salvation  of  souls. 


PROTESTATION. 

IN  obedience  to  the  decrees  of  Urban  VIII.,  I 
protest  that,  of  the  miraculous  works  and  gifts 
ascribed  in  this  work  to  certain  servants  of  God, 
and  not  already  approved  by  the  Holy  See,  I 
claim  no  other  belief  than  that  which  is  ordinarily 
given  to  history  resting  on  mere  human  authority ; 
and  that  in  bestowing  the  title  of  Saint  or  Blessed, 
on  any  person  not  canonized  or  beatified  by  the 
Church,  I  only  intend  to  do  it  according  to  the 
usage  and  opinion  of  men. 


INSTRUCTIONS  TO  PREACHERS. 


1.  IN  the  first  place,  the  preacher,  if  he  wishes  that 
his  preaching  shall  produce  abundant  fruit,  should 
propose  to  himself  the  proper  end — thafcis,  to  preach, 
not  with  a  view  to  obtain  honour,  or  applause,  or 
any  temporal  advantage,  but  solely  to  gain  souls 
to  God  ;  and  hence  it  is  necessary,  that  when  he 
enters  upon  his   exalted  office   of  divine  ambas 
sador,  he  should  pray  to  God  fervently  to  inflame 
his  heart  with  his  holy  love;  because  it  is  by  this 
means  that  his  preaching  will  be  productive  of 
much  fruit.     The  venerable  Father  John  D'Avila 
being  once  asked,  what  was  most  conducive  to 
wards  preaching  well,  replied  in  those  short  but 
expressive  words—"  To  love  Jesus  Christ  ivell" 
It  has  been  therefore  found  by  experience,  that 
preachers  who  love  Jesus  Christ  have  often  effected 
more  by  a  single  discourse,  than  others  by  several. 
2.  St.  Thomas  of  Villanova  said,  that  the  words 
of  a  sermon  should  be  like  so  many  darts  of  fire, 
which  would  wound  and  inflame  the  hearers  with 
divine  love.     "  But  how,"  he  subjoined,  "  can  the 
heart  be  set  on  fire  by  those  sermons  which,  though 
long  and  elaborate,  issue,  notwithstanding,  from 
a  frozen  heart  ?  "     St.  Francis  de  Sales  observes, 
that  the  tongue  speaks  to  the  ear,  but  the  heart 
speaks  to  the  heart.     He  proceeds  to  say,  that 
when  the  sentiments  do  not  spring  from  the  heart 
of  the  preacher,  it  is  with  difficulty  they  draw  the 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 


hearts  of  others  to  divine  love  ;  he  must  himself 
be  first  inflamed  with  it.  "  Lampades  ejus 
lampades  ignis,  atque  flammarum."  (Cant.  viii.  6.) 
He  must  be  first  a  fire  to  burn,  and  afterwards  a 
flame  to  set  others  on  fire.  St.  Bernard  explained 
this  in  other  terms,  when  he  said,  that  he  must  be 
first  a  cistern,  and  then  a  canal  ;  first  a  cistern— 
that  is,  full  of  the  fervour  and  zeal  which  are 
collected  in  mental  prayer ;  and  then  a  canal,  to 
communicate  it  to  others. 

3.  With  regard  to  the  subject  matter  of  sermons. 
Those  subjects  should  be  selected   which  move 
most  powerfully  to  detest  sin  and  to  love  God  ; 
whence  the  preacher  should  often  speak  of  the 
last  things— of  death,  of  judgment,   of  Hell,  of 
Heaven,  and  of  eternity.     According  to  the  advice 
of  the  Holy  Spirit,  "  Memorare  novissima  tua,  et 
in  setcrnum  non  peccabis,"  (Eccl.  vii.   40,)  it  is 
particularly  usefu  often  to  m  ae  mention  of  death, 
by  delivering  several  discourses  on  that  subject 
during  the  year,  speaking  at   one  time  on  the 
uncertainty  of  death,  which  terminates  all  the 
pleasures  as  well  as  all  the  afflictions  of  this  life  ; 
at  another,   on  the  uncertainty  of  the   time  at 
which  death  may  arrive  ;  now,   on  the  unhappy 
death  of  the  sinner  ;  and  again,  on  the  happy 
death  of  the  just. 

4.  The  preacher  should  often  speak  of  the  love 
which  Jesus  Christ  bears  towards  us,  of  the  love 
which  we  should  bear  to  Jesus  Christ,  and  of  the 
confidence  we  should  have  in  his  mercy  whenever 
we  are  resolved  to  amend  our  lives.     It  would 
appear  that  some  preachers  do  not  know  how  to 
speak  of  anything  but  the  justice  of  God,  terrors, 
threats,  and  chastisements.     There  is  no  doubt 
but  that  terrifying  discourses  are  of  use  to  arouse 


INSTRUCTIONS    TO    PREACHERS. 


sinners  from  the  sleep  of  sin  ;  but  we  should  be 
persuaded  at  the  same  time,  that  those  who  abstain 
from  sin  solely  through  the  fear  of  punishment, 
will  with  difficulty  persevere  for  a  long  time. 
Love  is  that  golden  link  which  binds  the  soul  to 
God,  and  makes  it  faithful  in  repelling  temptation 
and  practising  virtue.  St.  Augustine  said :  "Ama 
et  fac  quod  vis."  He  who  truly  loves  God,  flies 
from  everything  displeasing  to  Him,  and  seeks  to 
please  Him  to  the  utmost  of  his  power.  And  here 
let  us  cite  that  remarkable  saying  of  St.  Francis 
de  Sales  :  "  The  love  that  does  not  spring  from 
the  passion  of  Christ  is  weak."  By  this  the  saint 
gives  us  to  understand  that  the  passion  of  Christ 
moves  us  most  effectually  to  love  him. 

5.  Thus  it  is  very  useful,  and  most  conducive 
to  inspire  the  love  of  God,  to  speak  to  sinners  of 
the  confidence  which  we  should  have  in  Jesus 
Christ  if  we  abandon  sin.  "  Viam  mandatorum, 
tuorum  cucurri,  cum  dilatasti  cor  meum"  (Ps, 
cxviii.  32.)  When  the  heart  is  dilated  with  con 
fidence  it  easily  runs  in  the  way  of  the  Lord.  In 
like  manner  the  preacher  should  often  speak  of 
the  confidence  which  we  should  have  in  the  inter 
cession  of  the  Mother  of  God.  Besides  the  dis 
courses  delivered  during  the  course  of  the  year, 
on  the  principal  festivals  of  the  Blessed  Virgin 
Mary — as  the  Annunciation,  the  Assumption,  her 
Patronage,  and  her  Dolours — let  him  oftentimes, 
in  his  addresses  to  the  people,  inculcate  upon  the 
minds  of  his  auditors  devotion  to  the  Mother  of 
God.  Some  preachers  have  a  very  laudable 
custom  of  introducing  into  every  sermon  some 
thing  regarding  the  Blessed  Virgin,  either  by  re 
lating  some  example  of  graces  bestowed  on  her 
clients,  or  of  some  act  of  homage  performed  by 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 


her  votaries,   or  some  prayer  which  we  should 
offer  to  her. 

6.  Moreover,  the  preacher  should  often  speak  of 
the  means  by  which  we  are  preserved  in  the  grace 
of  God  :  such  as,   flying  dangerous  occasions  and 
wicked  companions,  frequenting  the  sacraments, 
and  especially  recommending  ourselves  often  to 
God  and  the  Virgin  Mother,  in  order  to  obtain 
the  graces  necessary  for  salvation,  and  principally 
the   graces   of  perseverance    and  of  the  love   of 
Jesus  Christ,  without  which  we  cannot  be  saved. 

7.  The  preacher  should  likewise  often   speak 
against  bad  confessions,  in  which  sins  are  con 
cealed  through  shame.    This  is  an  evil  not  of  rare 
occurrence,    but    frequent,    especially   in    small 
country    districts,   which   consigns    innumerable 
souls  to  hell.     Hence  it  is  very  useful  to  mention, 
from  time  to  time,  some  example  of  souls  that 
were  damned  by  wilfully  concealing  sins  in  con 
fession. 

8.  We  shall  now  speak  briefly  of  the  parts  of  a 
discourse,   which   arc   nine  : — the  exordium,   the 
proposition,    the   division,    the  introduction,   the 
proof,    the    confutation,    the    amplification,    the 
peroration  or  conclusion,  the  epilogue,  and  the 
appeal  to  the  passions.     These  are  again  reduced 
to  three  principal  divisions  :   1 — the  exordium  ;  2 
— the   proof,    which   comprises   the  introduction 
that     precedes,     and    the    confutation    of    the 
opposite  arguments,  that  follows  it ;  3 — the  pero 
ration  or  conclusion,  which  comprises  the  epilogue, 
the   moral    exhortation,   and   the    appeal  to  the 
passions.      To  the  exordium  rhetoricians  assign 
seven  parts :  —the  introduction,  general  proposition, 
confirmation,   repetition  of  the  proposition,  con 
nection,  particular  proposition,  and  division.    But, 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 


commonly  speaking,  the  substantial  parts  of  the 
exordium  are  three  :  1  — the  general  proposition  ; 
2 — the  connection  or  the  link  by  which  it  is  con 
nected  with  the  particular  proposition  ;  3 — the 
particular  proposition,  or  the  principal  one  of  the 
discourse,  which  includes  the  division  of  the  points. 
For  example  :  1 — "  We  must  work  out  our  salva 
tion,  because  there  is  no  alternative  :  whosoever 
is  not  saved  is  damned  : "  that  is  the  general  pro 
position.  2 — "  But,  to  be  saved,  we  must  die  a 
happy  death  :'  that  is  the  connection  or  applica 
tion.  3 — "  But  it  is  exceedingly  difficult  to  die  a 
happy  death  after  a  wicked  life  :"  and  that  is  the 
particular  proposition,  or  principal  one  of  the 
discourse,  which  ought  to  be  clear,  concise,  and, 
simple,  and,  at  the  same  time,  one ;  otherwise,  if 
unity  be  not  observed  in  the  proposition,  it  would 
not  be  one  sermon,  but  several  ;  and,  therefore, 
the  points  into  which  the  discourse  is  divided 
ought  all  tend  to  prove  one  single  proposition. 
For  example  :  "The  person  who  is  addicted  to  a 
bad  habit  is  with  difficulty  saved,  because  the  bad 
habit  (1)  darkens  the  understanding,  (2)  hardens 
the  heart :"  and  these  will  be  the  two  points  of 
the  discourse.  Let  the  points  be  short  and  few, 
not  exceeding  two,  or,  at  most,  three  ;  and  some 
times  a  single  point  will  be  sufficient.  For  ex 
ample  :  "  Mortal  sin  is  a  great  evil,  because  it  is 
an  injury  done  to  God  ;"  or,  "  He  who  abuses  too 
much  the  mercy  of  God  will  be  abandoned  by 
Him/' 

9.  With  regard  to  the  body  of  the  discourse, 
and,  in  the  first  place,  the  proof,  it  ought  to  be  a 
perfect  syllogism,  but  without  appearing  to  be  so. 
The  major  proposition  should  be  proved  before 
we  pass  to  the  minor  ;  and  the  minor  before  we 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO   PREACHERS. 


pass  to  the  conclusion.  This,  however,  is  to  be 
understood  when  the  major  or  minor  proposition 
requires  proof  :  otherwise,  when  they  express 
truths  already  known  and  certain,  it  is  sufficient 
to  amplify,  without  proving  them. 

10.  As  far  as  regards  the  order  of  the  proofs, 
generally  speaking,  the  authority  of  the  Scrip 
tures  and  of  the  Holy  Fathers  should  be  first  ad 
duced  ;  then   the   arguments   from  reason ;  and 
afterwards  the   illustrations  and  examples.     The 
texts  of  Scripture  should  be  cited  in  an  impressive 
and  emphatic  manner.     It  is  better  than  to  dwell 
on  the  exposition  of  one  cr  two  texts  of  Scripure 
than   to  cite  many  at  once,  without  considering 
well  their  import.     The  citations  from  the  Fathers 
should  be  few  and  brief,  and  containing  some  senti 
ment  that  is  strong  and  animated,  and  not  trivial. 
After  the   citations,   the  arguments  from  reason 
should    be    adduced  ;    concerning    which,   some 
assert  that  the  weaker  reasons  should  be  adduced 
in  the  first  place,  and  then  the  stronger  ;  but  I 
am  disposed  to  adopt  the  opinion  of  others,  who 
think  it  better  that  the  strong  arguments  should 
be   advanced  ;  and   that  the  weaker  ones  should 
occupy  the  middle  place  ;  because,  were  a  weak 
argument  adduced  in  the  commencement,  it  might 
make    a   bad    impression    on  the   minds    of  the 
auditors.     After  the  arguments  from  reason  come 
the  examples  and  illustrations.     I  have  said  that 
this  arrangement  should  be  observed  ordinarily ; 
but,  occasionally,   it  will  be  of  use  to  give  some 
one  of  the  foremen tioned  proofs  precedence  of  the 
others  :  this  must  be  left  to  the  discretion  of  the 
preacher. 

11.  Care  should  be  taken  that  the  transition 
from  one  point  to  the  other  be  made  naturally r 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 


without  passing  from  one  thing  to  another  that 
has  no  relation  to  it.  The  most  ordinary  and 
easiest  modes  are  these  :  "  Let  us  proceed  to  the 
other  point/'  etc.  ;  or  "  Thus,  after  having  seen," 
etc.  And  passing  from  one  argument  to  another, 
you  may  say  :  "  Besides,  we  should  consider,"  etc., 
taking  care,  as  far  as  it  is  possible,  that  the  last 
part  of  the  preceding  argument  has  some  connec 
tion  with  the  following  point  or  argument. 

12.  We  have  spoken  of  proofs.     As  far  as  re 
gards  the  amplification  of  proofs,   one  is  verbal, 
which  consists  in  words ;  another  is  real,  which 
may  consist  either  in   climax  ;  for  example  :  "It 
is  a  virtue  to  suffer  tribulations  with  patience — a 
greater  virtue  to  desire  them  ;  it  is  a  greater  still 
to  take  delight  in  them  ;"  or  it  may  be  borrowed 
from  the  circumstances  of  the  subject,   or  from 
comparison  with  another  subject  of  equal  or  lesser 
consideration.       The   morals   have    their   proper 
place,  as  we  shall  remark  in  the  peroration.     It  is, 
however,  occasionally  allowed,  after  a  satisfactory 
proof  has  been  adduced,  to  address  a  short  exhor 
tation  ;  and  this  is  particularly  the  case  in  the 
sermons  of  the  Mission,  in  which  the  audience  is 
generally  composed  of  rude,  uneducated  persons, 
on  whom  moral  exhortation  makes  more  impres 
sion  ;  but  these  moral  exhortations  that  are  inci 
dentally  introduced  should  not  be  too  long  or  too 
frequent,  so  as  to  render  the  discourse  tedious  or 
languid. 

13.  The  peroration   contains  three  parts — the 
epilogue,  the  moral  exhortation,  and  the  appeal  to- 
the  passions.     The  epilogue  is  a  recapitulation  of 
the  discourse,  in  which  the  most  convincing  argu 
ments  that  have  been  already  advanced  are  re 
peated,  but  which  must  be  handled  with  a  view 


10  INSTRUCTIONS    TO    PREACHERS. 

to  the  movement  of  the  passions  which  is  to  follow ; 
whence  the  preacher,  in  his  recapitulation,  should 
commence  to  move  the  passions. 

14.  As  to  the  moral  exhortation,  it  may  be 
observed,  that  oftentimes  the  principal  fruit  of  the 
sermon  consists,  especially  in  discourses  addressed 
to  the  people,  in  explaining  the  moral  truths  suit 
able  to  the  subject  of  the  discourse,  with  propriety 
and  earnestness.     The  preacher,  therefore,  should 
take  care   to   speak  against  the  most  prevalent 
vices,  viz.  :  hatred,  impurity,  blasphemy  ;  against 
evil  occasions,  wicked  companions ;  against  parents 
who  allow  their  children  to  hold  intercourse  with 
persons  of  different  sex  ;  and  especially  against 
mothers  who  invite  young  men  into  their  houses 
to  converse  with  their  daughters.     Let  him  also 
exhort  the  heads  of  families  to  remove  from  their 
houses  bad  books,  and  particularly  novels,  which 
insinuate  a  secret  poison  that  corrupts  youth.   Let 
him  speak  against  games  of  hazard,  which  are  the 
ruin  of  families  and  of  souls. 

15.  In  a  word,  let  the  preacher  endeavour,  in 
his  sermons,  always  to  insinuate  whatever  he  can 
that  is  practical — that  is,    the  remedies   of  the 
different  vices ;  the  means   of  persevering  in  a 
virtuous  life  ;  such  as,  to  fly  dangerous  occasions 
and  bad  company ;  to  offer  violence  to  one's  self 
in  motions  of  anger,  so  as  not  to  break  out  into 
injurious  actions  or  words  ;  by  suggesting  to  the 
hearers  some  form  of  expression,   to   avoid  blas 
phemies   or  imprecations  ;  for  example,    "  Lord, 
give  me  patience  ! "  "  Virgin  Alary,  assist  me  !  " 
and  the  like.     Let  him  recommend  the  people  to 
hear  Mass  every  morning :  to  read  every  day  some 
spiritual  book  ;  every  morning  to  renew  the  reso 
lutions  of  not  offending   God,   and   to  ask   the 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS.  11 

Divine  assistance  in  order  to  persevere  ;  to  make 
each  clay  a  visit  to  the  most  holy  sacrament  and 
the  Blessed  Virgin,  in  some  representation  of  her; 
each  evening  to  make  the  examination  of  con 
science,  with  an  act  of  sorrow  ;  after  having  com 
mitted  a  sin,  immediately  to  make  an  act  of 
contrition,  and  to  confess  it  as  soon  as  possible  : 
above  all,  let  him  recommend  his  hearers  to  have 
recourse  to  God  and  to  the  Blessed  Virgin  in  the 
time  of  temptation,  by  repeating  oftentimes  the 
name  of  Jesus  and  Mary,  and  continuing  to  invoke 
their  aid  until  the  temptation  ceases.  Those 
means  and  remedies  should  be  often  repeated  by 
the  preacher,  and  recommended  frequently  in  the 
course  of  his  sermons  ;  and  he  must  not  be  de 
terred  by  the  apprehension  of  being  criticised  by 
some  learned  person,  who  may  remark  that  the 
preacher  repeated  the  same  things.  In  preaching 
we  must  not  seek  the  applause  of  the  learned,  but 
the  divine  approbation  and  the  advantages  of  souls, 
and  particularly  of  poor  ignorant  persons,  who  do 
not  profit  so  much  by  thoughts  and  arguments,  as 
by  those  easy  practices  which  are  suggested  and 
repeated  to  them.  T  say  repeated,  since  those 
rude  and  unlettered  persons  will  easily  forget 
what  they  hear,  unless  it  is  oftentimes  repeated 
to  them. 

16.  Let  young  preachers  also  take  care  to  de 
velop,  and  to  commit  to  memory,  their  sermons, 
before  they  deliver  them  from  the  pulpit.  To 
preach  extempore  is  useful,  inasmuch  as  the  dis 
course  becomes  thus  more  natural  and  familiar ; 
this,  however,  is  not  the  case  with  young  men, 
but  only  with  those  who  have  been  in  the  habit 
of  preaching  for  many  years  ;  otherwise,  young 
men  would  contract  a  habit  of  speaking  without 


12  INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 

preparation,  and  of  preaching  at  random,  saying 
whatever  occurred  to  them,  without  any  order  or 
arrangement.  However,  young  preachers  should 
take  care  to  develop  their  sermons,  not  in  the  florid 
style  of  elaborate  expression,  lofty  thoughts,  and 
sounding  periods.  Read  the  golden  treatise  on 
popular  eloquence  by  the  celebrated  scholar,  Louis 
Muratori ;  in  which  he  proves  that  all  sermons 
addressed  to  an  audience  composed  of  learned 
and  unlearned,  ought  to  be  not  only  familiar,  but 
also  popular;  composed  in  an  easy  and  simple  style, 
such  as  the  people  are  in  the  habit  of  using ; 
avoiding,  however,  all  low  and  vulgar  expressions, 
which  are  not  suited  to  the  dignity  of  the  pulpit 
"The  people,"  says  Muratori,  "are  composed  for 
the  most  part  of  the  ignorant ;  if  you  address  to 
them  abstruse  doctrines  and  reflections,  and  use 
words  and  phrases  that  are  not  adapted  to  ordinary 
comprehensions,  what  fruit  do  you  hope  for  from 
persons  who  do  not  understand  you  1  Wherefore, 
the  practice  of  those  preachers  will  never  be  con 
formable  to  the  rules  of  the  art,  or  the  principles 
of  genuine  eloquence,  who,  instead  of  accommo 
dating  themselves  to  the  limited  capacity  of  so 
many  of  their  hearers,  appear  to  study  to  make 
themselves  intelligible  to  the  learned  only  ;  as  if 
they  were  ashamed  to  make  themselves  understood 
by  the  poor,  who  have  as  good  a  right  to  the  word 
of  God  as  the  learned.  Nay  more,  a  Christian 
preacher  is  bound  to  each  one  of  his  auditory  in 
particular,  as  if  there  were  no  other  who  heard 
him.  He  who  employs  lofty  reasoning,  and  is  not 
careful  to  make  himself  understood  by  all,  betrays 
the  cause  of  God  and  his  own  duty,  and  disregards 
the  spiritual  necessities  of  a  great  portion  of  his 
audience."  Hence  the  Council  of  Trent  prescribes 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS.  13 

to  all  parish  priests,  to  compose  their  discourses  in 
a  manner  adapted  to  the  capacity  of  their  audience: 
"  Archipresbyteri  et  parochi  per  se  vel  alios 
idoneos,  plebes  sibi  commissas  pro  earum  capaci 
tate  pascant  salutaribus  verbis."  (Sess.  v.  cap.  i. 
de  Eeform.) 

17.  St.    Francis    de    Sales    said,    that    select 
language   and  sounding  periods  are  the  bane  of 
sacred  eloquence  ;  and  the  principal  reason  of  this 
is,  that  sermons  composed  in  this  style  have  not 
the  divine  sanction  and  concurrence.     They  may 
be  of  use  to  the  learned,  but  not  to  the  illiterate, 
who  generally  constitute  the   principal  part    of 
every   audience.     On   the    other  hand,    sermons 
composed  in  a   familiar   style  are  useful  to  the 
illiterate  as  well  as  to  the  learned.     Muratori  adds, 
that  when  the  preacher  addresses  the   humbler 
classes  alone,  or  country  people,  he  ought  to  make 
use  of  the  most  popular  and  familiar  style  possible, 
in  order  to  accommodate    himself  to  the   gross 
understanding   of    such    ignorant   persons.      He 
says,  that  the  preacher,   when  speaking  to  those 
rude  people,  should  imagine  himself  to  be  one  of 
them,  who  was  desirous  to  persuade  a  companion 
of  something ;    that,    on   this   account  also,   the 
periods   of   sermons    addressed    to    the   common 
people   should    be    concise  and  broken,   so  that 
whoever  has  not  caught  the  meaning  of  the  first 
sentence,  may  be  able  to  comprehend  the  second; 
which  cannot  be  done  when  the  sentences  are 
long  and  connected  ;  for  then,  whoever  does  not 
understand  the  first  period  will  not  understand 
the  second  nor  the  third. 

18.  Muratori  also   observes,  that,  in  preaching 
to  the  people,  it  is  very  useful  to  make  frequent 
use  of  the  figure   called   antiplwra;  by  which  a 


14  INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACH  El  IS. 

question  is  asked,  and  replied  to  by  the  speaker. 
For  example  :  u  Tell  me  why  so  many  sinners  re 
lapse,  after  confession,  into  the  same  sins  ?  I  will 
tell  you :  because  they  do  not  remove  the 
dangerous  occasions  of  sin/'  It  is  also  useful 
oftentimes  to  call  on  the  auditory  to  attend  to 
what  is  said,  and  especially  to  certain  things  that 
are  more  important.  For  example  :  "  0  good 
God  !  you  come  to  us  in  order  to  save  us,  and  we 
fly  from  you  to  destroy  ourselves."  It  is  useful 
likewise  to  repeat  with  emphasis  some  striking 
maxim  of  religion  ;  as,  for  example  :  "  There  is  no 
alternative  :  sooner  or  later  we  must  die — sooner 
or  later  we  must  die  ;"  or,  "  My  brethren,  it  is 
certain  that,  after  this  life,  we  must  be  eternally 
happy,  or  eternally  miserable/' 

19.  I  do  not  enlarge  more  on  this  subject,  which 
I  deem  most  important,  as  I  have  found  it  neces 
sary  to  write  more  at  length  on  it  in  a  letter  of 
apology  which  I  published  in  reply  to  a  religious 
who  censured  me  for  approving  of  sermons  com 
posed  in  a  simple  and  popular  style.    I  there  pre 
mised  in  a  sufficient  manner  whatever  Muratori 
has  observed  on  this  subject,  and  subjoined  what 
the  Holy  Fathers  have  written  on  it,  as  far  as  I 
was  able  to  discover.     I  pray  the  reader  not  to 
omit  to  read  this  letter  :  it  is  an  uncommon  little 
treatise,  which  contains  matter  not  treated  by  any 
preceding  writer. 

20.  I  do  not,  however,  deem  it  right  to  omit 
to  say  something  on  the  modulation  of  the  voice, 
and  on  the  gesture  which  should  be  used  in  preach 
ing.     As  far  as  regards  the  voice,  the  preacher 
should  avoid  speaking  in  an  inflated  tone,  or  in  a 
monotonous  and  invariably  loud  tone  of  voice. 
What  moves  and  engages  the  attention  of  the 


INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS.  15 

hearers  is,  to  speak  at  one  time  in  a  strong,  at 
another  time  in  a  middle  voice,  and  at  another  in 
a  low  voice,  according  as  it  suits  the  sentiment 
that  is  expressed,  but  without  any  sudden  or 
violent  fall  or  elevation  ;  now  to  exclaim  ;  now  to 
pause  ;  and  now  to  resume  with  a  sigh.  This 
variety  of  tone  and  manner  keeps  the  audience 
always  attentive. 

21.  The  preacher  should  avoid  gesture  that  is 
affected,  or  oftentimes  repeated  in  the  same  form, 
or  too  vehement,  with  much  agitation  of  the  body. 
The  arms  should  be  moved  with  moderation  : 
ordinarily  the  right  hand  should  be  used ;  the  left 
but  seldom.  The  hands  should  not  be  raised 
above  the  head,  nor  too  much  extended  sideways, 
nor  held  too  confined.  In  delivering  the  exordium 
the  preacher  should  remain  stationery,  and  should 
not  move  from  a  middle  position  in  the  pulpit :  in 
delivering  the  first  sentence  he  should  not  use 
gesture  ;  in  the  second,  he  should  only  commence 
to  move  the  right  hand,  keeping  the  left  resting  on 
the  pulpit  or  the  breast.  Let  him  take  care  not  to 
keep  the  arms  attached  close  to  the  sides,  or  to 
raise  them  both  at  the  same  time  in  form  of  a  cross, 
or  throw  them  behind  the  shoulders.  Ho  must 
rarely  strike  them  against  each  other  or  against 
the  pulpit :  to  stamp  the  feet  is  very  unbecoming. 
The  motion  of  the  head  should  correspond  with 
that  of  the  hand,  accompanying  it  in  the  direction 
in  which,  it  moves.  It  is  a  fault  to  twist  the  head, 
or  move  it  too  often  or  too  violently,  or  to  hold  it 
always  raised,  or  always  inclined  upon  the  breast. 
The  eyes  ought  to  accompany  the  motion  of  the 
head  ;  whence  it  is  a  fault  to  keep  them  always 
closed  or  cast  downwards,  or  fixed  immoveably  in 
one  direction .  It  may  be  permitted  sometimes  to 


16  INSTRUCTIONS   TO    PREACHERS. 

sit  down,  but  it  should  be  seldom.  The  same 
may  be  said  of  moving  back  and  forward  :  but  the 
preacher  should  never  run  from  one  side  of  the 
pulpit  to  the  other.  He  should,  for  the  most 
part,  speak  from  a  middle  position,  so  as  to  be 
seen  equally  from  either  side  ;  but  it  is  useful  to 
incline  occasionally  to  the  right  or  left,  without, 
however,  turning  the  back  to  the  opposite  direc 
tion.  Finally,  as  far  as  regards  the  length  of  the 
sermon.  The  Lent  sermons  should  not  exceed  an 
Lour  ;  and  the  Sunday  discourses  should  not  oc 
cupy  more  than  three  quarters  of  an  hour  ;  but  the 
parochial  instructions  should  not  be  longer  than 
a  half-hour,  including  the  act  of  contrition,  to 
which,  ordinarily,  it  is  advisable  to  accustom  the 
common  people  ;  making  them,  at  the  close  of  the 
sermon,  have  recourse  to  the  mother  of  God,  to 
ask  of  her  some  particular  grace — as,  holy  perse 
verance,  a  happy  death,  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ, 
and  the  like.  Nor  does  it  signify,  that  in  order 
to  make  room  for  the  act  of  contrition,  the  time 
of  the  sermon  must  be  shortened  ;  for  these  acts 
are  the  most  precious  fruit  to  be  derived  from  it. 
It  were  well  that  the  preacher  should  some 
times  exhort  the  audience  to  relate  to  others  what 
they  have  heard  in  the  sermon  ;  as  by  this  means 
it  may  be  made  useful  even  to  those  who  have 
not  heard  it. 


SERMONS 


or 


SABTT    ALPHONSUS    LIGTTOBI. 

SERMON  I.— FIRST  SUNDAY  OF  ADVENT. 

On  the  General  Judgment. 

"And  they  shall  see  the  Son  of  Man  coming  in  the  clouds  of  Heaven 
with  much  power  and  majesty." — MATT.  xxiv.  30. 

AT  present  God  is  not  known,  and,  therefore,  he  is  as 
much  despised  by  sinners,  as  if  he  could  not  avenge, 
whenever  he  pleases,  the  injuries  offered  to  him.  The 
wicked  "  looketh  upon  the  Almighty  as  if  he  could  do 
nothing/'  (Job  xxii.  17,)  But  the  Lord  has  fixed  a  day, 
called  in  the  Scriptures  "the  day  of  the  Lord,"  on 
which  the  Eternal  Judge  will  make  known  his  power  and 
majesty.  "  The  Lord,"  says  the  Psalmist,  "shall  be 
known  when  he  executeth  judgment."  (Ps.  ix.  17.)  On 
this  text  St.  Bernard  writes :  "  The  Lord,  who  is  now 
unknown  while  he  seeks  mercy,  shall  be  known  when  he 
executes  justice."  (Lib.  de  xii.  Rad.)  The  prophet 

bophonias  calls  the  day  of  the  Lord  "  a  day  of  wrath 

a  day  of  tribulation  and  distress— a  day  of  calamity  and 
misery."  (i.  15.) 

Let  us  now  consider,  in  the  first  point,  the  different 
appearance  of  the  just  and  the  unjust;  in  the  second, 
the  scrutiny  of  consciences ;  and  in  the  third,  the  sen 
tence  pronounced  on  the  elect  and  on  the  reprobate. 

First  Point  On  the  different  appearance  of  the  just 
and  of  sinners  in  the  valley  of  Josaphat. 

1.  This  day  shall  commence  with  fire  from  Heaven, 


13  SERMON    I. 

which  will  burn  the  earth,  all  men  then  living,  and  all 
things  upon  the  earth.  "  And  the  earth  and  the  works 
which  are  in  it  shall  be  burnt  up."  (2  Pet.  m.  10.)  All 
shall  become  one  heap  of  ashes. 

2  After  the  death  of  all  men,  "  the  trumpet  shal 
sound,  and  the  dead  shall  rise  again."  (1  Cor.  xv.  52.) 
St  Jerome  used  to  say  :  "  As  often  as  I  consider  the  day 
of  judgment,  I  tremble.     Whether  I  eat  or  drink,  or 
whatever  else  I  do,  that  terrible  trumpet  appears  to 
sound  in  my  ears,  '  arise  ye  dead,  and  come  to  jud£ 
menV"  (in  Matt,  c.  v.) ;  and  St.  Augustine  declared, 
that  nothing  banished  from  him   earthly  thoughts  so 
effectually  as  the  fear  of  judgment. 

3  At  the  sound  of  that  trumpet  the   souls  of  the 
blessed  shall  descend  from  Heaven  to  be  united  to  t 
bodies  with  which  they  served  God  on  Earth ;  and  the 
unhappy  souls  of  the  damned  shall  come  up  from  Hell 
to  take  possession  again  of  those  bodies  with  which  they 
have  offended  God.      Oh ! .  ^different  the  appearance 
of  the  former,  compared  with  that  of  the  latter  ! 
damned  shall  appear  deformed  and  b  lack,  like  so  many 
firebrands  of  Hell ;  but  «  the  just  shall  shine  as  the  sun 
rMitt    xiii    43)      Oh!    how  great  shall  then  be  the 
Sppnes    of  those  who  have  fortified  their  bodies  by 
works  of  penance  !     We  may  estimate  their  felicity  from 
the  words  addressed  by  St.  Peter  of  Alcantara,  after 
death,  to  St.  Teresa :  "  O  happy  penance  !  which 

^V^Afte^the^r3  resurrection,  they  shall  be  summoned 

ssasiiwA&SfSs 

*:uf,£,  si  iitK.'tJJL  »=  £ 

XflS  the  Liter  of,  th.  right,  «rf  «" ,'»'-'  ™ 

&r  »!h.  .^1.^.60  ,~t  "j  *»y;-i--» 

the  wicked  from  among  the  just/   (Matt.  xin.  J».l 
how  Sat  will  then  be  the  confusion  which  the  un- 
Id  ^hal  suffer^     "What  think  you/'  says 

SSS^3^3S3SBft 


THE    GENERAL   JUDGMENT.  19 

constitute  a  hell  for  the  wicked.  "  Et  si  nihil  ulterius 
paterentur,  ista  sola  verecundia  sufficerit  eis  ad  pcenam," 
(in  Matt,  c.  xxiv.)  The  brother  shall  he  separated  from 
the  brother,  the  husband  from  his  wife,  the  son  from  the 
father,  etc. 

5.  But,  behold !  the  heavens  are  opened — the  angels 
come  to  assist  at  the  general  judgment,  carrying,  as  St. 
Thomas  says,  the  sign  of  the  cross  and  of  the  other  in 
struments  of  the  passion  of  the  Redeemer.     "  Yeniente 
Domino  ad  judicium  signum   crucis,   et   alia   passionis 
indicia  demonstrabunt."    (Opusc.    ii.  244.)     The  same 
may  be  inferred  from  the  twenty-fourth  chapter  of  St. 
Matthew  :  "  And  then  shall  appear  the  sign  of  the  Son 
of  Man  in  Heaven  ;  and  then  shall  all  the  tribes  of  the 
earth  mourn."  (xxiv.  30.)     Sinners  shall  weep  at  the 
sign  of  the  cross ;  for,  as  St.  Chrysostom  says,  the  nails 
will  complain  of  them — the  wounds  and  the  cross  of  Jesus 
Christ  will  speak  against  them.      "  Clavi  de  te  conquer- 
entur,  cicatrices  contra  et  loquentur,  crux  Chris ti  contra 
te  perorabit."  (Horn,  xx.,  in  Matt.) 

6.  Most  holy  Mary,  the  queen  of  saints  and  angels, 
shall  come  to  assist  at  the  last  judgment ;  and  lastly,  the 
Eternal  Judge  shall  appear  in  the  clouds,  full  of  splen 
dour  and  majesty.     "  And  they  shall  see  the  Son  of  Man 
coming  in  the  clouds  of  Heaven  with  much  power  and 
majesty."  (Matt.  xxiv.  30.)     Oh !  how  great  shall  be  the 
agony  of  the  reprobate  at  the  sight  of  the  Judge  !     "At 
their  presence/'  says  the  Prophet  Joel,  "  the  people  shall 
be  in  grievous  pains."  (Joel  ii.   6.)     According  to  St. 
Jerome,  the  presence  of  Jesus  Christ  will  give  the  repro 
bate  more  pain  than  Hell  itself.     "  It  would,"  he  says, 
"  be  easier  for  the  damned  to  bear  the  torments  of  Hell 
than  the  presence  of  the  Lord."     Hence,  on  that  day, 
the  wicked  shall,  according  to  St.  John,  call  on  the 
mountains  to  fall  on  them  and  to  hide  them  from  the 
sight  of  the  judge.     "  And  they  shall  say  to  the  moun 
tains  and  the  rocks :  Fall  upon  us,  and  hide  us  from  the 
face  of  Him  that  sitteth  on  the  throne,  and  from  the 
wrath  of  the  Lamb."  (Apoc.  vi.  16.) 

Second  Point.     The  scrutiny  of  conscience. 

7.  "The  judgment  sat,  and  the  books  were  opened.'* 


20  SERMON    I. 


(Dan.  vii.  10.)  The  books  of  conscience  are  opened,  and 
the  judgment  commences.  The  Apostle  says,  that  the 
Lord  "  will  bring  to  light  the  hidden  things  of  darkness." 
(1  Cor.  iv.  5.)  And,  by  the  mouth  of  his  prophet,  Jesus 
Christ  has  said  :  "  I  will  search  Jerusalem  with  lamps." 
(Soph.  i.  12.)  The  light  of  the  lamp  reveals  all  that  is 
hidden. 

8.  "  A  judgment,"  says  St.  Chrysostom,  "  terrible  to 
sinners,  but  desirable  and  sweet  to  the  just."  (Horn.  iii.  de 
Dav.)     The  last  judgment  shall  fill  sinners  with  terror, 
but  will  be  a  source  of  joy  and  sweetness  to  the  elect ; 
for  God  will  then  give  praise  to  each  one  according  to 
his  works.  (1  Cor.  iv.  5.)     The  Apostle  tells  us  that  on 
that  day  the  just  will  be  raised  above  the  clouds  to  be 
united  to  the  angels,  and  to  increase  the  number  of  those 
who  pay  homage  to  the  Lord.     "  We  shall  be  taken  up 
together  with  them  in  the  clouds  to  meet  Christ,  into  tho 
air."  (IThess.  iv.  16.) 

9.  Worldlings  now  regard  as  fools  the  saints  who 
led  mortified  and  humble  lives;  but  then  they  shall 
confess  their  own  folly,  and  say:  "We  fools  esteemed 
their   life  madness,    and    their    end  without  honour. 
Behold  how  they  are  numbered  among  the   children 
of  God,  and  their  lot  is  among  the  saints."  (Wis.  v. 
4,  5.)     In  this  world,  the  rich  and  the  noble  are  called 
happy ;  but  true  happiness  consists  in  a  life  of  sanc 
tity.     Rejoice,  ye  souls  who  live  in  tribulation  ;  "  your 
sorrow  shall  be  turned  into  joy."  (John  xvi.  20.)     In 
the  valley  of  Josaphat  you  shall  be  seated  on  thrones  of 
glory. 

10.  But  the  reprobate,  like  goats  destined  for  the 
slaughter,  shall  be  placed  on  the  left,  to  await  their  last 
condemnation.     "  Judicii  tempus,"  says  St.  Chrysostom, 
"  misericordiam  non  recipit."     On  the  day  of  judgment 
there  is  no  hope  of  mercy  for  poor  sinners.      '  Magna," 
says  St.  Augustine,  "jam  est  pcona  peccati,  metum  et  me- 
moriam  divini  perdidisse  judicii."  (Serm.  xx.  de  Temp.) 
The  greatest  punishment  of  sin  in  those  who  live  in 
enmity  with  God,  is  to  lose  the  fear  and  remembrance 
of  the  divine  judgment.     Continue,  continue,  says  the 
Apostle,  to  live  obstinately  in  sin ;  but  in  proportion  to 
your  obstinacy,  you   shall  have   accumulated  for  the 


THE    GENERAL    JUDGMENT.  21 


day   of  judgment   a   treasure   of  the   wrath    of    God 
But  according  to  thy  hardness  and  impenitent  heart' 

1*$  %self  wrath  a^st  ^  <%  « 

11.  Then  sinners  will  not  be  able  to  hide  themselves  • 
but,  with  insufferable  pain,  they  shall  be  compelled  to 
appear  m  judgment.  "To  lie  hid/'  says  St.  Anselm, 

will  be  impossible—  to  appear  will  be  intolerable." 
The  devils  will  perform  their  office  of  accusers,  and  as 
bt.  Augustine  says,  will  say  to  the  Judge  :  -Most  iust 

3d,  declare  him  to  be  mine,  who  was  unwilling  to  be 
yours  ^The  witnesses  against  the  wicked  shall  be 
first,  their  own  conscience—"  Their  conscience  bearing 
witness  to  them,-  (Rom.  ii.  15)  ;  secondly,  the  very  walls 
of  the  house  in  which  they  sinned  shall  cry  out  against 
them--"  The  stone  shall  cry  out  of  the  wall,"  (Hab.  ii 
11)  ;  thirdly,  the  Judge  himself  will  say—  "I  am  the 
judge  and  the  witness,  saith  the  Lord."  (Jer.  xxix  23  ) 
Hence,  according  to  St.  Augustine,  "He  who  is'  now 
the  witness  of  .your  life,  shall  be  the  judge  of  your 
cause.  (Lib.  x.  de  Chord.,  c.  ii.)  To  Christians  particu 
larly  he  will  say:  "Woe  to  thee,  Corozain,  woe  to 
thee,  Bethsaida;  for  if  in  Tyre  and  Sidon  had  been 
wrought  the  miracles  that  have  been  wrought  in  you, 
they  had  long  ago  done  penance  in  sackcloth  and  ashes  " 
(Matt.  xi.  21.)  Christians,  he  will  say,  if  the  graces 
which  I  have  bestowed  on  you  had  been  given  to  the 
lurks  or  to  the  Pagans,  they  would  have  done  penance 
tor  their  sins;  but  you  have  ceased  to  sin  onV  with 
your  death.  He  shall  then  manifest  to  all  men  their 
most  hidden  crimes.  "  I  will  discover  thy  shame  to  thy 
lace.  (JNahum  iii.  5.)  He  will  expose  to  view  all  their 
secret  impurities,  injustices,  and  cruelties.  "  I  will  set 

ai  1  yJabominations  aSainst  thee-"  (Ezech.  vii.  3.)  Each 
of  the  damned  shall  carry  his  sins  written  on  his  fore 
head. 


A  i1?"  T^hat  excuses  can  save  tne  wicked  on  that  day? 
Ah  !  they  can  offer  no  excuses.  "  All  iniquity  shall 
stop  her  mouth."  (Ps.  cvi.  42.)  Their  very  sins  shall 
close  the  mouth  of  the  reprobate,  so  that  they  will  not 
have  courage  to  excuse  themselves.  They  shall  pro 
nounce  their  own  condemnation. 


22  SERMON    I. 

Third   Point.     Sentence   of  the    elect,   and   of  the 
reprobate. 

13.  St.  Bernard  says,  that  the  sentence  of  the  elect, 
and  their  destiny  to  eternal  glory,  shall  be  first  declared, 
that  the  pains  of  the  reprobate  may  be  increased  ^  by 
the  sight  of  what  they  lost.      "  Prius  prommciabitur 
sententia  electis   ut    acrius    (reprobi)   doleant   yidentes 
quid  amiserunt."  (Ser.  viii.,  in  Ps.  xc.)  Jesus  Christ,  then, 
shall  first  turn  to  the  elect,  and  with  a  serene  counte 
nance  shall  say:  "Come,   ye   blessed   of  my   Father, 
possess  the  kingdom  preparad  for  you  from  the  foun 
dation  of  the  world. "  (Matt.  xxv.  34.)     He  will  then 
bless  all  the  tears  shed  through  sorrow  for  their  sins, 
and  all  their  good  works,  their  prayers,  mortifications, 
and  communions ;  above  all,  he  will  bless  for  them  the 
pains  of  his  passion  and  the  blood  shed  for  their  salva 
tion.     And,  after  these  benedictions,  the  elect,  singing 
alleluias,  shall  enter  Paradise  to  praise  and  love  God 
eternity. 

14.  The  Judge  shall  then  turn  to  the  reprobate,  and 
shall  pronounce  the  sentence  of  their  condemnation  in 
these  words  .  "  Depart  from  me,  you  cursed,  into  ever 
lasting  fire."  (Matt.  xxv.  41 )     They  shall  then  be  for 
ever  accursed,  separated  from  God,  and  sent  to  burn  for 
ever  in  the  fire  of  hell.     And  these  shall  go  into  evcr- 
lastin"1  punishment :  but  the  just  into  life  everlasting. 
(Matt?  xxv.  46.) 

15.  After  this  sentence,  the  wicked  shall,  according 
to  St.  Ephrem,  be  compelled  to  take  leave  for  ever  of 
their  relatives,  of  Paradise,  of  the  saints,  and  of  Mary 
the  divine  Mother.     "Farewell,  ye  just !     Farewell,  ( 
cross  I     Farewell,  0  Paradise  !     Farewell,  fathers  and 
brothers  :  we  shall  never  see  you  again  !     Farewell,  I 
Mary,  mother  of  God  I"     (St.  Eph.  de  variis  serm.  inf.) 
Then  a  great  pit  shall  open  in  the  middle  of  the  valley  : 
the  unhappy  damned  shall  be  cast  into  it,  and  shall  see 
those  doors  shut  which  shall  never  again  be  opened. 
O  accursed  sin  !  to  what  a  miserable  end  will  you  one 
day  conduct  so  many  souls  redeemed  by  the  blood  of 
Jesus  Christ.     0  unhappy  souls !  for  whom  is  prepared 
such   a  melancholy    end.      But,    brethren,   have  con 
fidence.      Jesus  Christ   is   now   a   Father,  and   not 


ADVANTAGES    OF    TRIBULATIONS.  23 

judge.     He  is  ready  to  pardon  all  who  repent.     Let  us 
then  instantly  ask  pardon  from  him. 

[Let  the  preacher  here  propose  for  the  people  an  act 
of  sorrow,  a  purpose  of  amendment,  and  a  prayer  to 
Jesus ^  and  to  Mary  for  the  gift  of  holy  perseverance. 
Let  him  repeat  the  same  at  the  end  of  every  sermon.] 


SERMON  II.— SECOND  SUNDAY  OF  ADVENT. 

On  the  advantages  of  tribulations. 

"  Now  when  John  had  heard  of  the  wonderful  works  of  Christ,"  etc. 
MATT.  ix.  2. 

IN  tribulations  God  enriches  his  beloved  souls  with  the 
greatest  graces.  Behold,  St.  John  in  his  chains  comes 
to  the  knowledge  of  the  works  of  Jesus  Christ :  "  When 
John  had  heard  in  prison  the  works  of  Christ."  Great 
indeed  are  the  advantages  of  tribulations.  The  Lord 
sends  them  to  us,  not  because  he  wishes  our  misfortune, 
but  because  he  desires  our  welfare.  Hence,  when  they 
come  upon  us  we  must  embrace  them  with  thanks 
giving,  and  must  not  only  resign  ourselves  to  the  divine 
will,  but^  must  also  rejoice  that  God  treats  us  as  he 
treated  his  Son  Jesus  Christ,  whose  life,  upon  this  earth 
was  always  full  of  tribulation.  I  shall  now  show,  in  the 
first  point,  the  advantages  we  derive  from  tribulations ; 
and  in  the  second,  I  shall  point  out  the  manner  in  which 
we  ought  to  bear  them. 

First  Point.  On  the  great  advantages  we  derive  from 
tribulations. 

1.  "What  doth  he  know  that  had  not  been  tried? 
A  man  that  hath  much  experience  shall  think  of  many 
things,  and  he  that  hath  learned  many  things  shall 
show  forth  understanding."  (Eccl.  xxxiv.  9.)  They 
who  live  in  prosperity,  and  have  no  experience  of 
adversity,  know  nothing  of  the  state  of  their  souls.  In 
the  first  place,  tribulation  opens  the  eyes  which  pros 
perity  had  kept  shut.  St.  Paul  remained  blind  after 
Jesus  Christ  appeared  to  him,  and,  during  his  blindness, 


24  SERMON    II. 


he  perceived  the  errors  in  which  he  lived.  During  his 
imprisonment  in  Babylon,  King  Man  asses  had  recourse 
to  God,  was  convinced  of  the  malice  of  his  sins,  and 
did  penance  for  them.  "And  after  that  he  was  in 
distress  he  prayed  to  the  Lord  his  God,  and  did  penance 
exceedingly  before  the  God  of  his  fathers."  (2  Paral. 
xxxiii.  12.)  The  prodigal,  when  he  found  himself 
under  the  necessity  of  feeding  swine,  and  afflicted  with 
hunger,  exclaimed  :  "  I  will  arise  and  go  to  my  father." 
(Luke  xv.  18.) 

Secondly,  tribulation  takes  from  our  hearts  all  affec 
tions  to  earthly  things.  When  a  mother  wishes  to 
wean  her  infant  she  puts  gall  on  the  paps,  to  excite  his 
disgust,  and  induce  him  to  take  better  food.  God 
treats  us  in  a  similar  manner :  to  detach  us  from 
temporal  goods,  he  mingles  them  with  gall,  that  by 
tasting  its  bitterness,  we  may  conceive  a  dislike  for 
them,  and  place  our  affections  on  the  things  of  Heaven. 
"  God,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  mingles  bitterness  with 
earthly  pleasures,  that  we  may  seek  another  felicity, 
whose  sweetness  does  not  deceive."  (Ser.  xxix.,  de  Verb. 
Dom.) 

Thirdly,  they  who  live  in  prosperity  are  molested  by 
many  temptations  of  pride  ,  of  vain-glory  ;  of  desires  of 
acquiring  greater  wealth,  great  honours,  and  greater  plea 
sures.  Tribulations  free  us  from  these  temptations,  and 
make  us  humble  and  content  in  the  state  in  which  the 
Lord  has  placed  us.  Hence  the  Apostle  says  :  "  We  are 
chastised  by  the  Lord  that  we  may  not  be  condemned 
with  this  world."  (1  Cor.  xi.  32.) 

2.  Fourthly,  by  tribulation  we  atone  for  the  sins  we 
have  committed  much  better  than  by  voluntary  works 
of  penance.  "  Be  assured,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  that 
God  is  a  physician,  and  that  tribulation  is  a  salutary 
medicine."  Oh !  how  great  is  the  efficacy  of  tribulation 
in  healing  the  wounds  caused  by  our  sins  !  Hence,  the 
same  saint  rebukes  the  sinner  who  complains  of  God 
for  sending  him  tribulations.  "  Why,"  he  says,  "  do 
you  complain  ?  What  you  suffer  is  a  remedy,  not  a 
punishment."  (In  Ps.  lv.)  Job  called  those  happy  men 
whom  God  corrects  by  tribulation ;  because  he  heals 
them  with  the  very  hands  with  which  he  strikes  and 


ADVANTAGES   OF   TRIBULATIONS.  25 

wounds  them.  "Blessed  is  the  man  whom  God  cor- 
recteth.  .  .  .  For  he  woundeth  and  cureth.  He  striketh, 
and  his  hand  shall  heal."  (Job  v.  17,  18.)  Hence,  St. 
Paul  gloried  in  his  tribulations :  "  Gloriamur  in  tribu- 
lationibus."  (Rom.  v.  3.) 

3.  Fifthly,  by  convincing  us  that  God  alone  is  able 
and  willing  to  relieve  us  in  our  miseries,  tribulations 
remind  us  of  him,  and  compel  us  to  have  recourse  to  his 
mercy.     "  In  their  affliction  they  will  rise  early  to  me." 
(Oseevi.  1.)     Hence,  addressing  the  afflicted,  the  Lord 
said :  "  Come  to  me,  all  you  that  labour  and  are  bur 
dened,  and  I  will  refresh  you."  (Matt.  xi.  28.)     Hence 
he  is  called  "  a  helper  in  troubles."  (Ps.  xlv.  1 .)  ' '  When," 
says  David,  "  he  slew  them,  then  they  sought  him,  and 
they  returned."  (Ps.  Ixxvii.  34.)     When  the  Jews  were 
afflicted,  and  were  slain  by  their  enemies,  they  remem 
bered  the  Lord,  and  returned  to  him. 

4.  Sixthly,  tribulations   enable  us  to   acquire   great 
merits  before  God,  by  giving  us  opportunities  of  exer- 
cising  the  virtues  of  humility,  of  patience,  and  of  resig 
nation  to  the  divine  will.     The  venerable  John  d'Ayila 
used  to  say,  that  a  single  blessed  be  God:  in  adversity, 
is   worth   more   than   a   thousand   acts   in    prosperity. 
"  Take   away,"    says   St.   Ambrose,    "  the    contests   of 
the  martyrs,  and  you  have  taken  away  their  crowns." 
(In  Luc.,  c.  iv.)  *   Oh  !   what   a  treasure   of  merit  is 
acquired  by  patiently  bearing  insults,  poverty,  and  sick 
ness  !     Insults  from  men  were  the  great  objects  of  the 
desires  of  the  saints,  who  sought  to  be  despised  for  the 
love  of  Jesus  Christ,  and  thus  to  be  made  like  unto 
him. 

5.  How  great  is  the  merit  gained  by  bearing  with  the 
inconvenience  of  poverty.     "  My  God  and  my  all,"  says 
St.  Francis  of  Assisium:  in  expressing  this  sentiment, 
he  enjoyed  more  of  true  riches  than  all  the  princes  of 
the  Earth.     How  truly  has  St.  Teresa  said,  that  "  the 
less  we  have  here,  the  more  we  shall  enjoy  hereafter." 
Oh  !  how  happy  is  the  man  who  can  say  from  his  heart : 
My  Jesus,  thou  alone  art  sufficient  for  me !     If,  says  St. 
Chrysostom,  you  esteem   yourself  unhappy  because  you 
are  poor,   you  are  indeed  miserable   and  deserving  of 
tears  ;  not  because  you  are  poor,  but  because,  being  poor, 


2G  SERMON    II. 


you  do  not  embrace  your  poverty,  and  esteem  yourself 
happy."  "  Sane  dignus  es  lachrymis  ob  hoc,  quod  mise- 
rum  te  extimas,  non  ideo  quod  pauper  es."  (Serin,  ii., 
Epis.  ad  Phil.) 

6.  By  bearing  patiently  with  the  pains  of  sickness,  a 
great,  and  perhaps  the  greater,  part  of  the  crown  which 
is  prepared  for  us  in  Heaven  is  completed.     The  sick 
sometimes  complain  that  in  sickness  they  can  do  no 
thing  ;    but   they   err  ;    for,   in   their   infirmities   they 
can  do  all  things,  by  accepting   their  sufferings  with 
peace  and  resignation.     "  The  Cross  of  Christ,"  says  St. 
Chrysostora,  "  is  the  key  of  Paradise."  (Com.  in  Luc.  de 
vir.) 

7.  St.  Francis  de  Sales  used  to  say  .  "  To  suffer  con 
stantly  for  Jesus  is  the  science  of  the  saints ;  we  shall 
thus  soon  become  saints."     It  is  by  sufferings  that  God 
proves  his  servants,  and  finds  them  worthy  of  himself. 
"  Deus  tentavit  es,  et  invenit  eos  dignos  se."  (Wis.  iii. 
5)      "Whom,"  says  St.  Paul,  "the  Lord  loveth,  he 
chastiseth;  and  he  scourgeth  every  son  whom  he  re- 
ceiveth."  (Ileb.  xii.  6.)     Hence,  Jesus  Christ  once  said 
to  St.  Teresa  :  "  Be  assured  that  the  souls  dearest  to  my 
Father  are  those  who  suffer  the  greatest   afflictions." 
Hence  Job  said  :  "  If  we  have  received  good  things  at 
the  hand  of  God,  why  should  we  not  receive  evil  ?" 
(Job.  ii.  10.)     If  we  have  gladly  received  from  God  the 
goods  of  this  Earth,  why  should  we  not  receive  more 
cheerfully  tribulations,  which  are  far  more  useful  to  us 
than  worldly  prosperity  ?     St.  Gregory  informs  us  that, 
as  flame  fanned  by  the  wind  increases,  so  the  soul  is 
made  perfect  when  she  is   oppressed   by   tribulations. 
"  Ignis  flatu  premitur,  ut  crescat."  (Ep.  xxv.) 

8.  To  holy  souls  the  most  severe  afflictions  are  the 
temptations  by  which  the  Devil  impels  them  to  offend 
God:  but  they  who  bear  these  temptations  with  patience, 
and  banish  them  by  turning  to  God   for   help,    shall 
acquire  great  merit.     "  And,"  says  St.  Paul,  "  God  is 
faithful,  who  will  not  suffer  you  to  be  tempted  above 
that  which  you  are  able,  but  will  also  make  issue  with 
the   temptation   that   you    may    be   able  to  bear  it." 
(1   Cor.  x.   13.)      God  permits  us  to  be  molested  by 
temptations,  that,  by   banishing  them,   we   may   gain 


ADVANTAGES    OF    TRIBULATIONS. 


27 


greater  merit.  "  Blessed,"  says  the  Lord,  "  are  they 
that  mourn,  for  they  shall  be  comforted. "  (Matt.  v.  5.) 
They  are  blessed,  because,  according  to  the  Apostle,  our 
tribulations  are  momentary  and  very  light,  compared 
with  the  greatness  of  the  glory  which  they  shall  obtain 
for  us  for  eternity  in  Heaven.  "  For  that  which  is  at 
present  momentary  and  light  of  our  tribulation,  worketh 
for  us  above  measure  exceedingly  an  eternal  weight  of 
glory/'  (1  Cor.  iv.  17.) 

9.  It  is  necessary,  then,  says  St.  Chrysostom,  to  bear 
tribulations  in  peace ;  for,  if  you  accept  them  with  resig 
nation,  you  shall  gain  great  merit ;  but  if  you  submit  to 
them  with  reluctance,   you   shall   increase,    instead   of 
diminishing,  your  misery      "  Si  vero  segre  feras,  neque 
calamitatum  minorem  facies,   et  majorem  reddes  pro- 
cellam/ '     (Horn.  Ixiv.,  ad  Pop.)     If  we  wish  to  be  saved, 
we  must  submit  to  trials.     "  Through  many  tribulations 
we  must  enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God."  (Acts  xiv.  21.) 
A  great  servant  of  God  used  to  say,  that  Paradise  is  the 
place  of  the  poor,  of  the  persecuted,  of  the  humble  and 
afflicted.     Hence  St.  Paul  says  :  "  Patience  is  necessary 
for  you,  that,  doing  the  will  of  God,  you  may  receive 
the  promise."  (Heb.  x.  36.)    Speaking  of  the  tribulations 
of  the  saints,  St.  Cyprian  asks  •  "  What  are  they  to  the 
servants   of  God,   whom   Paradise   invites  ?"    (Ep,    ad 
Demetr.)     Is  it  much  for  those  to  whom  the  eternal 
goods  of  Heaven  are  promised,  to  embrace  the  short 
afflictions  of  this  life  ? 

10.  In  fine,  the  scourges  of  Heaven  are  sent  not  for 
our  injury,  but  for  our  good.     "  Let  us  believe  that 
these  scourges  of  the  Lord,  with  which,  like  servants, 
we  are  chastised,  have  happened  for  our  amendment, 
and  not  for  our  destruction."  (Judith  viii.  27.)     "  God," 
says  St.  Augustine,  "  is  angry  when  he  does  not  scourge 
the  sinner."  (In  Ps.  Ixxxix.)     When  we  see  a  sinner  in 
tribulation  in  this  life,  we  may  infer  that  God  wishes  to 
have  mercy  on  him  in  the  next,  and  that  he  exchanges 
eternal  for  temporal  chastisement.     But  miserable  the 
sinner  whom  the  Lord  does  not  punish  in  this  life  ! 
For  those  whom  he  does  not  chastise  here,  he  treasures 
up  his  wrath,  and  for  them  he  reserves  eternal  chastise 
ment. 


28  SERMON   II. 


11.  "  Why,"   asks  the  Prophet  Jeremy,   "  doth   the 
way  of  the  wicked  prosper  V  (xii.  1.)     Why,  0  Lord, 
do  sinners  prosper  ?     To  this  the  same  prophet  answers : 
"  Gather  them  together  as  sheep  for  a  sacrifice,  and 
prepare  them  for  the  day  of  slaughter."  (Tb.  v.  3.)     As 
on  the  day  of  sacrifice  the  sheep  intended  for  slaughter 
are  gathered  together,  so   the   impious,  as  victims  of 
divine  wrath,  are  destined  to  eternal  death.     "  Destine 
them,"   says   Du   Hamel,    in   his   commentary  on  this 
passage,  "  as  victims  of  thy  anger  on  the  day  of  sacri 
fice." 

12.  When,  then,  God  sends  us  tribulations,  let  us  say 
with  Job:  "I  have  sinned,  and  indeed  I  have  offended,  and 
I  have  not  received  what  I  have  deserved."  (Job  xxxiii. 
27.)     O  Lord,  my  sins  merit  far  greater  chastisement 
than  that  which  thou  hast  inflicted  on  me.     We  should 
even  pray  with  St.  Augustine,  "  Burn — cut — spare  not 
in  this  life,  that  thou  mayest  spare  for  eternity."     How 
frightful  is  the  chastisement  of  the  sinner  of  whom  the 
Lord  says :  *'  Let  us  have  pity  on  the  wicked,  but  he 
will  not  learn  justice."  (Is.  xxvi.  10.)     Let  us  abstain 
from  chastising  the  impious  :  as  long  as  they  remain  in 
this  life  they  will  continue  to  live  in  sin,  and  shall  thus 
be  punished  with  eternal  torments.     On  this  passage  St. 
Bernard  says  :  "  Misericordiam  hanc  nolo,  super  omnem 
iram  miseratio  ista."  (Serin,  xlii.,  in  Cant.)     Lord,  I  do 
not  wish  for  such  mercy,  which  is  a  chastisement  that 
surpasses  all  chastisements. 

13.  The  man  whom  the  Lord  afflicts  in  this  life  has  a 
certain  proof  that  he  is  dear  to  God.     "  And,"  said  the 
angel  to  Tobias,  "  because  thou  wast  acceptable  to  God, 
it  was  necessary  that  temptations  should  prove  thee." 
(Tob.  xii.  13.)     Hence,  St.  James  pronounces  blessed  the 
man  who  is  afflicted :  because  after  he  shall  have  been 
proved  by  tribulation,  he  will  receive  the  crown  of  life." 
(Jam.  i.  12.) 

14.  He   who   wishes   to   share   in  the   glory   of  the 
saints,  must  suffer  in  this  life  as  the  saints  have  suffered. 
None  of  the  saints  has  been  esteemed  or  treated  well  by 
the  world— all  of  them  have  been  despised  and  perse 
cuted.     In  them  have  been  verified  the  words  of  the 
Apostle :    "  All  that  will  live   godly  in  Christ  Jesus, 


ADVANTAGES    OF    TRIBULATIONS.  29 

shall  suffer  persecution."  (2  Tim.  iii.  12.)  Hence  St. 
Augustine  said,  that  they  who  are  unwilling  to  suffer 
persecutions,  have  not  as  yet  begun  to  be  Christians. 
"  Si  putas  non  habere  persecutiones,  nondum  csepisti  esse 
Christianus."  (In  Ps.  Iv.)  "When  we  are  in  tribulation, 
let  us  be  satisfied  with  the  consolation  of  knowing  that 
the  Lord  is  then  near  us  and  in  our  company.  u  The 
Lord  is  nigh  unto  them  that  are  of  a  contrite  heart." 
(Ps.  xxxiii.  19.)  "  I  am  with  him  in  tribulation."  (Ps. 
xc.  15.) 

Second  Point.     On  the  manner  in  which  we  should 
bear  tribulations. 

15.  He  who  suffers  tribulations  in  this  world  should, 
in  the  first  place,  abandon  sin,  and  endeavour  to  recover 
the  grace  of  God ;  for  as  long  as  he  remains  in  sin,  the 
merit  of  all  his  sufferings  is  lost.     "  If,"  says  St.  Paul, 
"  I  should  deliver  my  body  to  be  burned,  and  have  not 
charity,  it  profiteth  me  nothing."   (1  Cor.  xiii.  3.)     If 
you  suffered  all  the  torments  of  the  martyrs  >  or  bore  to 
be  burned  alive,  and  were  not  in  the  state  of  grace,  it 
would  profit  you  nothing. 

16.  But,  to  those  who  can  suffer  with  God,  and  with 
resignation  for  God's  sake,  all  the  tribulations  shall  be  a 
source  of  comfort  and  gladness.     "  Your  sorrow  shall  be 
turned  into  joy."  (John  xvi.  20.)     Hence,  after  having 
been  insulted  and  beaten  by  the  Jews,  the  apostles  de 
parted  from  the  council  full  of  joy,  because  they  had  been 
maltreated  for  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ.     "  And  _they 
indeed  went  from  the  presence  of  the  council,  rejoicing 
that  they  were  accounted  worthy  to  suffer  reproach  for 
the  name  of  Jesus."  (Acts  v.  41.)     Hence,  when  God 
visits  us  with  any  tribulations,  we  must  say  with  Jesus 
Christ :  "  The  chalice  which  my  Father  hath  given  me, 
shall  I  not  drink  it  ?"  (John  xviii.  11.)     It  is  necessary 
to  know  that  every  tribulation,  though  it  may  come  from 
men,  is  sent  to  us  by  God. 

17.  When  we  are  surrounded  on  all  sides  with  tri 
bulations,  and  know  not  what  to  do,  we  ^must  turn  to 
God,  who  alone  can  console  us.     Thus  King  Josaphat, 
in  his  distress,  said  to  the  Lord :  "  As  we  know  not 
what  to  do,  we  can  only  turn  our  eyes  to  thee."     (2 


SO  SERMON    II. 


Par.  xx.  12.)  Thus  David  also  in  his  tribulation  had 
recourse  to  God,  and  God  consoled  him :  "  In  my 
trouble  I  cried  to  the  Lord,  and  he  heard  me."  (Ps. 
cxix.  1.)  We  should  turn  to  God,  and  pray  to  him,  and 
never  cease  to  pray  till  he  hears  us.  "  As  the  eyes  of 
the  handmaid  are  on  the  hands  of  her  mistress,  so  are 
our  eyes  unto  the  Lord  our  God,  until  he  have  mercy 
on  us."  (Ps.  cxxii.  2.)  We  must  keep  our  eyes  con 
tinually  raised  to  God,  and  must  continue  to  implore 
his  aid,  until  he  is  moved  to  compassion  for  our  miseries. 
We  must  have  great  confidence  in  the  heart  of  Jesus 
Christ,  and  ought  not  to  imitate  certain  persons,  who 
instantly  lose  courage  because  they  do  not  feel  that 
they  are  heard  as  soon  as  they  begin  to  pray.  To 
them  may  be  applied  the  words  of  the  Saviour  to  St. 
Peter  :  "0  thou  of  little  faith  !  why  didst  thou  doubt?" 
(Matt.  xiv.  31.)  When  the  favours  which  we  ask  are 
spiritual,  or  can  be  profitable  to  our  souls,  we  should 
be  certain  of  being  heard,  provided  we  persevere  in 
prayer,  and  do  not  lose  confidence.  "  All  things 
whatsoever  you  ask  when  ye  pray,  believe  that  you 
shall  receive,  and  they  shall  come  unto  you."  (Mark  xi. 
24.)  In  tribulations,  then,  we  should  never  cease  to 
hope  with  confidence  that  the  divine  mercy  will  console 
us ;  and  if  our  afflictions  continue,  we  must  say  with 
Job  :  "  Although  he  should  kill  me,  I  will  trust  in 
him."  (xiii.  15.) 

18.  Souls  of  little  faith,  instead  of  turning  to  God  in 
their  tribulations,  have  recourse  to  human  means,  and 
thus  provoke  God's  anger,  and  remain  in  their  miseries. 
"  Unless  the  Lord  build  the  house,  they  labour  in  vain 
that  build   it.      Unless  the   Lord  keep  the   city,   he 
watcheth  in  vain  that  keepeth  it."  (Ps.  cxxvi.  1.)     On 
this  passage  St.  Augustine  writes :  "  Ipse  aedificat,  ipse 
intellectum  aperit,  ipse  ad  finem  applicat  sensum  ves- 
trum  :  et  tamen  laboramus  et  nos  tanquam  operarii,  sed 
nisi  Dominus  custodierit  civitatem,"  etc.     All  good — all 
help  must  come  from  the  Lord.     Without  him  creatures 
can  give  us  no  assistance. 

19.  Of  this  the  Lord  complains  by  the  mouth  of  his 
prophet :  "  Is  not,"  he  says,  "  the  Lord  in  Sion  ? . .  .Why 
then  have  they  provoked  me  to  wrath  with  their  idols. . . 


ADVANTAGES    OF    TRIBULATIONS.  31 

Is  there  no  balm  in  Galaad  ?  or  is  there  no  physician 
there  ?  Why  then  is  not  the  wound  of  the  daughter  of 
my  people  closed?"  (Jer.  viii.  19,  22.)  Am  I  not  in  Sion? 
Why  then  do  men  provoke  me  to  anger  by  recurring  to 
creatures,  which  they  convert  into  idols  by  placing  in 
them  all  their  hopes  ?  Do  they  seek  a  remedy  for  their 
miseries  ?  Why  do  they  not  seek  it  in  Galaad,  a  moun 
tain  full  of  balsamic  ointments,  which  signify  the  divine 
mercy  ?  There  they  can  find  the  physician  and  the  remedy 
of  all  their  evils.  Why  then,  says  the  Lord,  do  your 
wounds  remain  open  ?  Why  are  they  not  healed  ?  It 
is  because  you  have  recourse  not  to  me,  but  to  creatures, 
and  because  you  confide  in  them,  and  not  in  me. 

20.  In  another  place  the  Lord  says  :  "  Am  I  become 
a  wilderness  to  Israel,  or  a  late  ward  springing  land  ? 
Why  then  have  my  people  said  :  We  are  revolted  ;  we 
will  come  to  thee  no  more  ?.  .But  my  people  have  for 
gotten  me  days  without  number."  (Jer.  ii.  31,  32.)  God 
complains,  and  says  :  "  Why,  my  children,  do  you  say 
that  you  will  have  recourse  to  me  no  more  ?     Am  I 
become  to  you  a  barren  land,  which  gives  no  fruit,  or 
gives  it  too  late  ?     Is  it  for  this  reason  that  you  have  so 
long  forgotten  me  ?     By  these  words  he  manifests  to  us 
his  desire  that  we  pray  to  him,  in  order  that  he  may  be 
able  to  give  us  his  graces  ;  and  he  also  gives  us  to  under 
stand  that  when  we  pray  to  him,  he  is  not  slow,  but 
instantly  begins  to  assist  us. 

21.  The  Lord,  says  David,  is  not  asleep  when  we  turn 
to  his  goodness,  and  ask  the  graces  which  are  profitable 
to  our  souls :  he  hears  us  immediately,  because  he  is 
anxious  for  our  welfare.      "Behold,   he  shall  neither 
slumber  nor  sleep  that  keepeth  Israel."  (Ps.  cxx.   4.) 
When  we  pray  for  temporal  favours,  St.  Bernard  says 
that  God  "  will  give  what  we  ask,  or  something  more 
useful."     He  will  grant  us  the  grace  which  we  desire, 
whenever  it  is  profitable  to  our  souls ;  or  he  will  give  us 
a  more  useful  grace,  such  as  the  grace  to  resign  ourselves 
to  the  divine  will,  and  to  suffer  with  patience  our  tribu 
lations,  which  shall  merit  a  great  increase  of  glory  in 
Heaven. 

[Act  of  sorrow  and  amendment,  prayer  to  Jesus 
and  Mary.] 


32  SERMON*    II T. 


SERMON  III.— THIRD  SUNDAY  OP  ADVENT. 
On  the  means  necessary  for  salvation. 

tf  I  am  the  voice  of  one  crying  in  the  wilderness  :  Make  straight  the 
way  of  the  Lord."— JOHN  i.  23. 

ALL  would  wish  to  bo  saved  and  to  enjoy  the  glory  of 
Paradise ;  but  to  gain  Heaven,  it  is  necessary  to  walk 
in  the  straight  road  that  leads  to  eternal  bliss.  This 
road  is  the  observance  of  the  divine  commands.  Hence, 
in  his  preaching,  the  Baptist  exclaimed:  "Make  straight 
the  way  of  the  Lord."  In  order  to  be  able  to  walk 
always  in  the  way  of  the  Lord,  without  turning  to  tho 
right  or  to  the  left,  it  is  necessary  to  adont  the  proper 
means.  These  means  are,  first,  diffidence  in  ourselves  ; 
secondly,  confidence  in  God  ;  thirdly,  resistance  to  temp 
tations. 

First  Means.  Diffidence  in  ourselves. 

1.  "  With  fear  and   trembling,"   says  the   Apostle, 
"  work  out  your  salvation."  (Phil.  ii.  12.)     To  secure 
eternal  life,  we  must  be  always  penetrated  with  fear, 
we  must  be  always  afraid  of  ourselves  (with  fear  and 
trembling),  and  distrust  altogether  our  own  strength ; 
for,   without   the   divine   grace   we    can    do    nothing. 
"  Without    me,"    says    Jesus    Christ,    "  you    can    do 
nothing."     We  can  do  nothing  for  the  salvation  of  our 
own  souls.     St.  Paul  tells  us,  that  of  ourselves  we  are 
not  capable  of  even  a  good  thought.     "  Not  that  we  are 
sufficient  to  think  anything  of  ourselves,  as  of  ourselves, 
but  our  sufficiency  is  from  God."  (2  Cor.  iii.  5.)     With 
out  the  aid  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  we  cannot  even  pronounce 
the  name  of  Jesus  so  as  to  deserve  a  reward.     "  And  no 
one  can  say  the  Lord  Jesus,  but  by  the  Holy  Ghost/' 
(1  Cor.  xii.  8.) 

2.  Miserable  the  man  who  trusts  to  himself  in  the 
way  of  God.     St.  Peter  experienced  the  sad  effects  of 
self-confidence.     Jesus  Christ  said  to  him :    "  In  this 
night,   before   cock-crow,   thou  wilt   deny   me  thrice." 
(Matt.  xxvi.  31.)     Trusting  in  his  own  strength  and  his 


MEANS   NECESSARY    FOR   SALVATION.  33 

good  will,  the  Apostle  replied  :  "  Yea,  though  I  should 
die  with  thee,  I  will  not  deny  thee."  (v.  35.)  What  was 
the  result  ?  On  the  night  on  which  Jesus  Christ  had 
been  taken,  Peter  was  reproached  in  the  court  of 
Caiphas  with  heing  one  of  the  disciples  of  the  Saviour. 
The  reproach  filled  him  with  fear :  he  thrice  denied 
his  Master,  and  swore  that  he  had  never  known 
him.  Humility  and  diffidence  in  ourselves  are  so 
necessary  for  us,  that  God  permits  us  sometimes  to 
fall  into  sin,  that,  by  our  fall,  we  may  acquire  humi 
lity  arid  a  knowledge  of  our  own  weakness.  Through 
want  of  humility  David  also  fell :  hence,  after  his  sin, 
lie  said :  "  Before  I  was  humbled,  I  offended."  (Ps. 
cxviii.  67.) 

3.  Hence  the  Holy  Ghost  pronounces  blessed  the  man 
who  is  always  in  fear :  "  Blessed  is  the  man  who  is 
always  fearful."  (Prov.  xxviii.  14.)     He  who  is  afraid 
of  falling  distrusts  his  own  strength,  avoids  as  much  as 
possible  all  dangerous  occasions,  and  recommends  him 
self  often  to  God,  and  thus  preserves  his  soul  from  sin. 
But  the   man  who   is   not  fearful,   but   full   of    self- 
confidence,  easily  exposes  himself  to  the  danger  of  sin : 
he  seldom  recommends  himself  to  God,  and  thus  he  falls. 
Let  us  imagine  a  person  suspended  over  a  great  preci 
pice  by  a  cord  held  by  another.     Surely  he  would  con 
stantly  cry  out  to  the  person  who  supports  him :  Hold 
fast,  hold  fast ;  for  God's  sake,  do  not  let  go.     We  are 
all  in  danger  of  falling  into  the  abyss  of  all  crime,  if 
God  does  not  support  us.     Hence  we  should  constantly 
beseech  him  to  keep  his  hands  over  us,  and  to  succour 
us  in  all  dangers. 

4.  In  rising  from  bed,  St.  Philip  Neri  used  to  say 
every  morning :  0  Lord,  keep  thy  hand  this  day  over 
Philip ;  if  thou  do  not,  Philip  will  betray  thee.     And 
one  day,  as  he  walked  through  the  city,  reflecting  on 
his  own  misery,  he  frequently  said,  /  despair,  I  despair. 
A  Certain  religious  who  heard  him,  believing  that  the 
saint  was  really  tempted  to  despair,  corrected  him,  and 
encouraged  him  to  hope  in  the  divine  mercy.     But  the 
saint  replied  :  "I  despair  of  myself,  but  I  trust  in  God." 
Hence,  during  this  life,  in  which  we  are  exposed  to  so 
many  dangers  of  losing  God,  it  is  necessary  for  us  to 


34  SERMON    III. 


live  always  in  great  diffidence  of  ourselves,  and  full  of 
confidence  in  God. 

Second  Means.     Confidence  in  God. 

5.  St.  Francis  de  Sales  says,  that  the  mere  attention 
to  self- diffidence  on  account  of  our  own  weakness,  would 
only  render  us  pusillanimous,  and  expose  us  to  great 
danger  of  abandoning  ourselves  to  a  tepid  life,  or  even 
to  despair.     The  more  we  distrust  our  own  strength,  the 
more  we  should  confide  in  the  divine  mercy.     This  is  a 
balance,  says  the  same  saint,  in  which  the  more  the  scale 
of  confidence  in  God  is  raised,  the  more  the  scale  of  diffi 
dence  in  ourselves  descends. 

6.  Listen  to  me,  O  sinners  who  have  had  the  mis- 
fo^tune  of  having  hitherto  offended  God,  and  of  being 
condemned  to  hell :  if  the  Devil  tells  you  that  but  little 
hope  remains  of  your  eternal  salvation,  answer  him  in 
the  words  of  the  Scripture  :  "  No  one  hath  hoped  in  the 
Lord,  and  hath  been  confounded.''  (Eccl.  ii.  11.)     No 
sinner  has  ever  trusted  in  God,  and  has  been  lost.  Make, 
then,   a  firm  purpose  to  sin  no  more ;  abandon  your 
selves  into  the  arms  of  the  divine  goodness ;  and  rest 
assured  that  God  will  have  mercy  on  you,  and  save  you 
from  Hell.     "  Cast  thy  care  upon  the  Lord,  and  he  shall 
sustain  thee."    (Ps.  liv.  23.)     The  Lord,  as  we  read  in 
Blosius,  one  day  said  to  St.  Gertrude  :  "  He  who  confides 
in  me,  does  me  such  violence  that  I  cannot  but  hear  all 
his  petitions/' 

7.  "  But,"  says  the  Prophet  Isaias,  "  they  that  hope 
in  the  Lord  shall  renew  their  strength  ;  they  shall  take 
wings  as  eagles  ;  they  shall  run,  and  not  be  weary  ;  they 
shall  walk,  and  not  faint."  (xl.  31.)     They  who  place 
their  confidence  in  God  shall  renew  their  strength  ;  they 
shall  lay  aside  their  own  weakness,  and  shall  acquire  the 
strength  of  God  ;  they  shall  fly  like  eagles  in  the  way  of 
the   Lord,   without  fatigue   and   without  ever  _  failing. 
David  says,   that   "  mercy   shall    encompass   him  that 
hopeth  in  the  Lord."  (Ps.  xxxi.  10.)     He  that  hopes  in 
the  Lord  shall  be  encompassed  by  his  mercy,  so  that  he 
shall  never  be  abandoned  by  it. 

8.  St.  Cyprian  says,  that  the  divine  mercy  is  an  inex 
haustible  fountain.      They   who  bring  vessels  of  the 


MEANS   NECESSARY   FOR   SALVATION.  35 


greatest .confidence,  draw  from  it  the  greatest  graces 
Hence  the  Royal  Prophet  has  said:  "Let  thy  mercy' 
Lord  be  upon  us,  as  we  have  hoped  in  thee."  (Ps! 
xxxii.  22.)  Whenever  the  Devil  terrifies  us  by  placing 
before  our  eyes  the  great  difficulty  of  persevering  in 
the  grace  of  God  in  spite  of  all  the  dangers  and  sinful 
occasions  of  this  life,  let  us,  without  answering  him, 
raise  our  eyes  to  God,  and  hope  that  in  his  goodness  he 
will  certainly  send  us  help  to  resist  every  attack.  « I 
have  lifted  up  my  eyes  to  the  mountains,  from  whence 
help  shall  come  to  me."  (Ps.  cxx.  1.)  And  when  the 
enemy  represents  to  us  our  weakness,  let  us  say  with  the 

™  "  YPV  •  Ca?Qd?  aLtHngS  in  him  who  strengthened 
me.  (Phil.  iv.  13 )  Of  myself  I  can  do  nothing ;  but 
E  trust  in  God,  that  by  his  grace  I  shall  be  able  to  do  all 
tmngs. 

9.  Hence,  in  the  midst  of  the  greatest  dangers  of  per 
dition  to  which  we  are  exposed,  we  should  continually 
turn  to  Jesus  Christ,  and.  throwing  ourselves  into  the 
hands  of  him  who  redeemed  us  by  his  death,  should  say : 

Into  thy  hands  I  commend  my  spirit:  thou  hast  re 
deemed  me,  O  Lord,  the  God  of  truth."  (Ps.  xxx.  6.) 
Ihis  prayer  should  be  said  with  great  confidence  of 
obtaining  eternal  life,  and  to  it  we  should  add:  "In 
thee,  O  Lord,  I  have  hoped ;  let  me  not  be  confounded 
for  ever/'  (Ps.  xxx.  1.) 

Third  Means.    Ptesistance  to  temptations. 

10.  It  is  true  that  when  we  have  recourse  to  God  with 
confidence  in  dangerous  temptations,  he  assists  us  ;  but, 
in  certain  very  urgent  occasions,  the  Lord  sometimes 
wishes  that  we  cooperate,  and  do  violence  to  ourselves, 
to  resist  temptations.     On  such  occasions,  it  will  not  be 
enough  to  have  recourse  to  God  once  or  twice ;  it  will 

5  necessary  to  multiply  prayers,  and  frequently  to  pros- 
*;?  °Sselves'  and  send  up  our  sighs  before  the  image 
of  the  Blessed  Virgin  and  the  crucifix,  crying  out  with 
tears:  Mary,  my  mother,  assist  me  ;  Jesus,  my  Saviour, 
save  me,  lor  thy  mercy's  sake— do  not  abandon  me,  do 
not  permit  me  to  lose  thee. 

11.  Let  us  keep  in  mind  the  words  of  the  Gospel: 
How  narrow  is  the  gate  and  strait  is  the  way  that 


36  SERMON    111. 

leadeth  to  life :  and  few  there  are  that  find  it."  (Matt. 
vii.  14.)  The  way  to  Heaven  is  strait  and  narrow:  they 
who  wish  to  arrive  at  that  place  of  hliss  by  walking  in 
the  paths  of  pleasure  shall  be  disappointed:  and^ there 
fore  few  reach  it,  because  few  are  willing  to  use  violence 
to  themselves  in  resisting  temptations.  :^The  kingdom 
of  Heaven  suffereth  violence,  and  the  violent  bear  it 
away."  (Matt.  xi.  12.)  In  explaining  this  passage,  a 
certain  writer  says :  "  Vi  queritur,  invaditur,  occupatur." 
It  must  be  sought  and  obtained  by  violence:  he  who 
wishes  to  obtain  it  without  inconvenience,  or  by  leading 
a  soft  and  irregular  life,  shall  not  acquire  it— he  shall 
be  excluded  from  it. 

12.  To  save  their   souls,  some   of  the   saints  have 
retired  into  the  cloister ;  some  have  confined  themselves 
in  a  cave ;  others  have  embraced  torments  and  death. 
"  The  violent  bear  it  away  "     Some  complain  of  their 
want  of  confidence  in  God  ;  but  they  do  not  perceive 
that  their  diffidence  arises  from  the  weakness  of  their 
resolution  to  serve  God.     St.  Teresa  used  to  say:  "  Of 
irresolute  souls  the  Devil  has  no  fear/'     And  the  Wise 
Man   has   declared,   that   "desires    kill   the   slothful.'* 
(Prov.  xxi.  25.)     Some  would  wish  to  be  saved  and  to 
become  saints,  but  never  resolve  to  adopt  the  means  of 
salvation,  such  as  meditation,  the  frequentation  of  the 
sacraments,   detachment  from   creatures ;    or,  if   they 
adopt  these  means,  they  soon  give  them  up.     In  a  word, 
they  are  satisfied  with  fruitless  desires,  and  thus  continue 
to  live  in  enmity  with  God,  or  at  least  in  tepidity,  which 
in  the  end  leads  them  to  the  loss  of  God.     Thus  in  them 
are  verified  the  words  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  "  desires  kill 
the  slothful." 

13.  If,  then,  we  wish  to  save  our  souls,  and  to  become 
saints,  we  must  make  a  strong  resolution  not  only  in 
general  to  give  ourselves  to  God,  but  also  in  particular 
to  adopt  the  proper  means,  and  never  to  abandon  them 
after  having  once  taken  them  up.      Hence   we   must 
never  cease  to  pray  to  Jesus  Christ,  and  to  His  holy 
Mother  for  holy  perseverance. 


LOVE    OF   JESUS   CHRIST   FOR    US.  37 


SERMON  IV.— FOUETH  SUNDAY  OF  ADYENT. 

On  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ  for  us,  and  on  our  obliga 
tions  to  love  him. 

*'  And  all  flesh  shall  see  the  salvation  of  God." — LUKE  iii.  6. 

THE  Saviour  of  the  world,  whom,  according  to  the  pre 
diction  of  the  prophet  Isaias,  men  were  one  day  to  see 
on  this  Earth — "  and  all  flesh  shall  see  the  salvation  of 
God," — has  already  come.  "We  have  not  only  seen  him 
conversing  among  men,  but  we  have  also  seen  him  suffer 
ing  and  dying  for  the  love  of  us.  Let  us,  then,  this 
morning  consider  the  love  which  we  owe  to  Jesus  Christ 
at  least  through  gratitude  for  the  love  which  he  bears  to 
us.  In  the  first  point  we  shall  consider  the  greatness  of 
the  love  which  Jesus  Christ  has  shown  to  us ;  and  in 
the  second  we  shall  see  the  greatness  of  our  obligations 
to  love  him. 

First  Point.     On  the  great  love  which  Jesus  Christ 
has  shown  to  us. 

1 .  "  Christ,"  says  St.  Augustine,   "  came  on  Earth 
that  men  might  know  how  much  God  loves  them."     He 
has  come,  and  to  show  the  immense  love  which  this  God 
bears  us,  he  has  given  himself  entirely  to  us,  by  aban 
doning  himself  to  all  the  pains  of  this  life,  and  afterwards 
to  the  scourges,  to  the  thorns,  and  to  all  the  sorrows  and 
insults  which  he  suffered  in  his  passion,  and  by  offering 
himself  to  die,  abandoned  by  all,  on  the  infamous  tree 
of  the  cross.     "  Who  loved  me,  and  delivered  himself 
for  me."  (Gal.  ii.  20.) 

2.  Jesus  Christ  could  save  us  without  dying  on  the 
cross,   and  without  suffering.     One  drop  of  his  blood 
would  be  sufficient  for  our  redemption.     Even  a  prayer 
offered  to  his  Eternal  Father  would  be  sufficient ;  be 
cause,   on  account  of  his  divinity,  his  prayer  would  be 
of  infinite  value,  and  would  therefore  be  sufficient  for 
the  salvation  of  the  world,  and  of  a  thousand  worlds. 
"  But/'  says  St.  Chrysostom,  or  another  ancient  author, 


38  SERMON   IV. 


"  what  was  sufficient  for  redemption  was  not  sufficient 
for  love."  To  show  how  much  he  loved  us,  he  wished 
to  shed  not  only  a  part  of  his  blood,  but  the  entire  of  it, 
by  dint  of  torments.  This  may  be  inferred  from  the 
words  which  he  used  on  the  night  before  his  death: 
"  This  is  my  blood  of  the  new  testament,  which  shall  be 
shed  for  many.'7  (Matt.  xxvi.  28.)  The  words  shall  be 
shed  show  that,  in  his  passion,  the  blood  of  Jesus  Christ 
was  poured  forth  even  to  the  last  drop.  Hence,  when 
after  death  his  side  was  opened  with  a  spear,  blood  and 
water  came  forth,  as  if  what  then  flowed  was  all  that 
remained  of  his  blood.  Jesus  Christ,  then,  though  he 
could  save  us  without  suffering,  wished  to  embrace  a  life 
of  continual  pain,  and  to  suffer  the  cruel  and  ignominious 
death  of  the  cross.  "  He  humbled  himself,  becoming 
obedient  unto  death,  even  the  death  of  the  cross."  (Phil. 
ii.  8.) 

3.  "  Greater  love  than  this  no  man  hath,  that  a  man 
lay  down  his  life  for  his  friends."  (John  xv.  13.)     To 
show  his  love  for  us,  what  more  could  the  Son  of  God 
do  than  die  for  us  ?     What  more  can  one  man  do  for 
another  than  give  his  life  for  him  ?     "  Greater  love  than 
this  no  man  hath."     Tell  me,  my  brother,  if  one  of  your 
servants — if  the  vilest  man  on  this  Earth  had  done  for 
you  what  Jesus  Christ  has  done  in  dying  through  pain 
on  a  cross,  could  you  remember  his  love  for  you,  and  not 
love  him  ? 

4.  St.  Francis  of  Assisium  appeared  to  be  unable  to 
think  of  anything  but  the  passion  of  Jesus  Christ ;  and, 
in  thinking  of  it,  he  continually  shed  tears,  so  that  by 
his  constant  weeping  he  became  nearly  blind.     Being 
found  one  day  weeping  and  groaning  at  the  foot  of  the 
crucifix,  he  was  asked  the  cause  of  his  tears  and  lamen 
tations.     He  replied :  "  I  weep  over  the  sorrows  and 
ignominies  of  my  Lord.     And  what  makes  me  weep  still 
more  is,  that  the  men  for  whom  he  has  suffered  so  much 
live  in  forgetfulness  of  him," 

5.  O  Christian,  should  a  doubt  ever  enter  your  mind 
that  Jesus  Christ  loves  you,  raise  your  eyes  and  look  at 
him  hanging  on  the  cross.     Ah !  says  St.   Thomas  of 
Villanova,  the  cross  to  which  he  is  nailed,  the  internal 
and  external  sorrows  which  he  endures,  and  the  cruel 


LOVE    OF    JESUS    CHRIST   FOR  US.  39 


death  which  he  suffers  for  you,  are  convincing  proofs  of 
the  love  which  he  bears  you:  "Testis  crux,  testes  dolores, 
testis  amara  mors  quam  pro  te  sustinuit."  (Cone.  3.)  Do 
you  not,  says  St.  Bernard,  hear  the  voice  of  that  cross, 
and  of  those  wounds,  crying  out  to  make  you  feel  that 
he  truly  loves  you  ?  "  Clamat  crux,  clamat  vulnus, 
quod  vere  dilexit." 

6.  St.  Paul  says  that  the  love  which  Jesus  Christ  has 
shown  in  condescending  to  suffer  so  much  for  our  salva 
tion,  should  excite  us  to  his  love  more  powerfully  than 
the  scourging,  the  crowning  with  thorns,   the  painful 
journey  to  Calvary,  the  agony  of  three  hours  on  the 
cross,  the  buffets,  the  spitting  in  his  face,  and  all  the 
other  injuries  which  the  Saviour  endured.     According  to 
the  Apostle,  the  love  which  Jesus  has  shown  us  not  only 
obliges,  but  in  a  certain  manner  forces  and  constrains  us, 
to  love  a  God  who  has  loved  us  so  much.     "  For  the 
charity  of  Christ  presseth  us."  ('2  Cor.  v.  14.)     On  this 
text  St.  Francis  de  Sales  says  :    "  We  know  that  Jesus 
the  true  God  has  loved  us  so  as  to  suffer  death,  and  even 
the  death  of  the  cross,  for  our  salvation.     Does  not  such 
love  put  our  hearts  as  it  were  under  a  press,  to  force  from 
them  love  by  a  violence  which  is  stronger  in  proportion 
as  it  is  more  amiable  ? 

7.  So  great  was  the  love  which  inflamed  the  ena 
moured  heart  of  Jesus,  that  he  not  only  wished  to  die 
for  our  redemption,  but  during  his  whole  life  he  sighed 
ardently  for  the  day  on  which  he  should  suffer  death  for 
the  love  of  us.     Hence,  during  his  life,  Jesus  used  to 
say :  "  I  have  a  baptism  wherewith  I  am  to  be  baptized ; 
and  how  am  I  straitened  until  it  be   accomplished." 
(Luke  xii.  50.)     In  my  passion  I  am  to  be  baptized  with 
the  baptism  of  my  own  blood,  to  wash  away  the  sins  of 
men.     "  And  how  am  I  straitened !"     How,   says  St. 
Ambrose,  explaining  this  passage,  am  I  straitened  by  the 
desire  of  the  speedy  arrival  of  the  day  of  my  death  ? 
Hence,  on  the  night  before  his  passion  he  said :  "  With 
desire  I  have  desired  to  eat  this  pasch  with  you  before  I 
suffer."  (Luke  xxii.  ]5.) 

8.  "  We  have,"  says  St.  Lawrence  Justinian,  "  seen 
wisdom  become  foolish  through  an  excess  of  love."     We 
have,  he  says,  seen  the  Son  of  God  become  as  it  were  a 


40  SERMON    IV. 


fool,  through,  the  excessive  love  which  he  bore  to  men. 
Such,  too,  was  the  language  of  the  Gentiles  when  they 
heard  the  apostles  preaching  that  Jesus  Christ  suffered 
death  for  the  love  of  men.  "  But  we,"  says  St.  Paul, 
"  preach  Christ  crucified,  unto  the  Jews  indeed  a  stum 
bling  block,  unto  the  Gentiles  foolishness."  (1  Cor.  i.  23.) 
Who,  they  exclaimed,  can  believe  that  a  God,  most 
happy  in  himself,  and  who  stands  in  need  of  no  one, 
should  take  human  flesh  and  die  for  the  love  of  men, 
who  are  his  creatures  ?  This  would  be  to  believe  that  a 
God  became  foolish  for  the  love  of  men.  "  It  appears 
folly,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  that  the  author  of  Life  should 
die  for  men."  (Horn  vi.)  But,  whatever  infidels  may 
say  or  think,  it  is  of  faith  that  the  Sou  of  God  has  shed 
all  his  blood  for  the  love  of  us,  to  wash  away  the  sins  of 
our  souls.  "  Who  hath  loved  us,  and  washed  us  from 
our  sins  in  his  own  blood."  (Apoc.  i.  5.)  Hence,  the 
saints  were  struck  dumb  with  astonishment  at  the  con 
sideration  of  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ.  At  the  sight  of 
the  crucifix,  St.  Francis  of  Paul  could  do  nothing  but 
exclaim,  0  love !  0  love  !  0  love ! 

9.  "  Having  loved  his  own  who  were  in  the  world, 
he  loved  them  unto  the  end/'  (John  xiii.   1.)      This 
loving  Lord  was  not  content  with  showing  us  his  love  by 
dying  on  the  cross  for  our  salvation  ;  but,  at  the  end  of 
his  life,  he  wished  to  leave  us  his  own  very  flesh  for  the 
food  of  our  souls,  that  thus  he  might   unite   himself 
entirely  to  us.     "  Take  ye  and  eat,  this  is  my  body." 
(Matt.  xxvi.  26.)     But  of  this  gift  and  this  excess  of 
love  we  shall  speak  at  another  time,  in  treating  of  the 
most  holy  sacrament  of  the  altar.     Let  us  pass  to  the 
second  point. 

Second  Point.     On  the  greatness  of  our  obligations  to 
love  Jesus  Christ. 

10.  He  who  loves  wishes  to   be   loved.     u  When," 
says  St.  Bernard,  "  God  loves,  he  desires  nothing  else 
than  to  be  loved."  (Ser.  Ixxxiii.,  in  Cant.)  The  Redeemer 
said:  "  I  am  come  to  casJt^we^on  the  Earth,  and  what 
will  I  but  that  it  is  kiiidfeS^^aike  xii.  49.)     I,  says 
Jesus  Christ,  came  or/eafrth  to  lightVup  the  fire  of  divine 
love  in  the  hearts  of  mepi  f£8u<Hvhac  will  I  but  that  it 


LOVE   OF   JESUS   CHRIST   FOR   IIS.  41 

be  kindled  ?"  God  wishes  nothing  else  from  us  than  to 
be  loved.  Hence  the  holy  Church  prays  in  the  following 
words :  "  We  beseech  thee,  0  Lord,  that  thy  Spirit  may 
inflame  us  with  that  fire  which  Jesus  Christ  cast  upon 
the  Earth,  and  which  he  vehemently  wished  to  be 
kindled.'*  Ah !  what  have  not  the  saints,  inflamed  with 
this  fire,  accomplished !  They  have  abandoned  all 
things — delights,  honours,  the  purple  and  the  sceptre — 
that  they  might  burn  with  this  holy  fire.  But  you  will 
ask  what  are  you  to  do,  that  you  too  may  be  inflamed 
with  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ.  Imitate  David:  "  In  my 
meditation  a  fire  shall  flame  out/'  (Ps.  xxxviii).  Medi 
tation  is  the  blessed  furnace  in  which  the  holy  fire  of 
divine  love  is  kindled.  Make  mental  prayer  every  day, 
meditate  on  the  passion  of  Jesus  Christ,  and  doubt  not 
but  you  too  shall  burn  with  this  blessed  flame. 

11.  St.  Paul  says,  that  Jesus  Christ  died  for  us  to 
make  himself  the  master  of  the  hearts  of  all.     "  To  this 
end  Christ  died  and  rose  again,  that  he  might  be  Lord 
both  of  the  dead  and  of  the  living."  (Bom.  xiv.  9.)     He 
wished,  says  the  Apostle,  to  give  his  life  for  all  men, 
without  a  single  exception,  that  not  even  one  should  live 
any  longer  to  himself,  but  that  all  might  live  only  to 
that  God  who  condescended  to  die  for  them.     "  And 
Christ  died  for  all,  that  they  also  who  live  may  not  now 
live  to  themselves,  but  unto  him  who  died  for  them." 
(2  Cor.  v.  15.) 

12.  Ah!  to  correspond  to  the  love  of  this  God,  it 
would  be  necessary  that  another  God  should  die  for  him, 
as  Jesus  Christ  died  for  us.     0  ingratitude  of  men !     A 
God  has  condescended  to  give  his  life  for  their  salvation, 
and  they  will  not  even  think  on  what  he  has  even  done 
for  them  !     Ah  !  if  each  of  you  thought  frequently  on 
the  sufferings  of  the  Redeemer.,  and  on  the  love  which 
he  has  shown  to  us  in  his  passion,  how  could  you  but 
love  him  with  your  whole  hearts?     To  him  who  sees 
with  a  lively  faith  the  Son  of  God  suspended  by  three 
nails   on   an   infamous  gibbet,    every  wound  of  Jesus 
speaks  and  says:  "  Thou  shalt  love  the  Lord  thy  God." 
Love,  0  man,  thy  Lord  and  thy  God,  who  has  loved 
thee  so  intensely.     "Who  can  resist  such  tender  expres 
sions  ?     "  The  wounds  of  Jesus  Christ,"  says  St.  Bona- 


42  SERMON   IV. 


venture,  "  wound  the  hardest  hearts,  and  inflame  frozen 
souls."  „ 

13.  "  Oh !  if  you  knew  the  mystery  of  the  cross ! 
said  St.  Andrew  the  Apostle  to  the  tyrant  by  whom  he 
was  tempted  to  deny  Jesus  Christ.     0  tyrant,  if  you 
knew  the  love  which  your  Saviour  has  shown  you  by 
dying  on  the  cross  for  your  salvation,  instead  of  tempt 
ing  me,  you  would  abandon  all  the  goods  of  this  Earth 
to  give  yourself  to  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ. 

14.  I  conclude,  my  most  beloved  brethren,  by  recom 
mending  you  henceforth  to  meditate  every  day  on  the 
passion  of  Jesus  Christ.     I  shall  be  content,  if  you  daily 
devote  to  this  meditation  a  quarter  of  an  hour.   Let  each 
at  least  procure  a  crucifix,  let  him  keep  it  in^  his  room, 
and  from  time  to  time  give  a  glance  at  it,  saying:  "Ah! 
my  Jesus,  thou  hast  died  for  me,  and  I  do  not  love  thee. 
Had  a  person  suffered  for  a  friend  injuries,  buffets,  and 
prisons,  he  would  be  greatly  pleased  to  find  that  they 
were  remembered  and  spoken  of  with  gratitude.     But  he 
should  be  greatly  displeased  if  the  friend  for  whom  they 
had  been  borne,  were  unwilling  to  think  or  hear  of  his 
sufferings.     Thus  frequent  meditation  on  his  passion  is 
very  pleasing  to  our  Redeemer ;  but  the  neglect  of  ^it 
greatly  provokes  his  displeasure.     Oh  !  how^  great  will 
be  the  consolation  which  we  shall  receive  in  our  last 
moments  from  the  sorrows  and  death  of  Jesus  Christ,  if, 
during  life,  we  shall  have  frequently  meditated  on  them 
with  love !     Let  us  not  wait  till  others,  at  the  hour  of 
death,  place  in  our  hands  the  crucifix ;  let  us  not  wait 
till  they  remind  us  of  all  that  Jesus  Christ  sufiered  for 
us.     Let  us,  during  life,  embrace  Jesus  Christ  crucif 

let  us  keep  ourselves  always  united  to  him,  that  we  may 
live  and  die  with  him.  He  who  practises  devotion  to 
the  passion  of  our  Lord,  cannot  but  be  devoted  to  the 
dolours  of  Mary,  the  remembrance  of  which  will  be  to  us 
a  source  of  great  consolation  at  the  hour  of  death, 
how  profitable  and  sweet  the  meditation  of  Jesus  on  the 
cross  !  Oh  !  how  happy  the  death  of  him  who  dies  in  the 
embraces  of  Jesus  crucified,  accepting  death  with  cheer, 
fulness  for  the  love  of  that  God  who  has  died  lor  the 
love  of  us  1 


IN    WHAT   TRUE   WISDOM   CONSISTS.  43 


SERMON  V.— SUNDAY  WITHIN  THE  OCTAVE 
OF  THE  NATIVITY. 

In  what  true  wisdom  consists. 

"  Behold,  this  CHILD  is  set  for  the  fall  and  for  the  resurrection  of 
many  in  Israel." — LUKE  ii.  34. 

SUCH  was  the  language  of  holy  Simeon  when  he  had  the 
consolation  to  hold  in  his  hands  the  infant  Jesus.  Among 
other  things  which  he  then  foretold,  he  declared  that 
"  this  child  was  set  for  the  fall  and  for  the  resurrection 
of  many  in  Israel."  In  these  words  he  extols  the  lot  of 
the  saints,  who,  after  this  life,  shall  rise  to  a  life  of 
immortality  in  the  kingdom  of  bliss,  and  he  deplores  the 
misfortune  of  sinners,  who,  for  the  transitory  and  mise 
rable  pleasures  of  this  world,  bring  upon  themselves 
eternal  ruin  and  perdition.  But,  notwithstanding  the 
greatness  of  his  own  misery,  the  unhappy  sinner,  reflect 
ing  only  on  the  enjoyment  of  present  goods,  calls  the 
saints  fools,  because  they  seek  to  live  in  poverty,  in  humi 
liation,  and  self-denial.  But  a  day  will  come  when 
sinners  shall  see  their  errors,  and  shall  say.  "  We  fools 
esteemed  their  life  madness,  and  their  end  without 
honour."  (Wis.  v.  4.)  We  fools;  behold  how  they 
shall  confess  that  they  themselves  have  been  truly  fools. 
Let  us  examine  in  what  true  wisdom  consists,  and  we 
shall  see,  in  the  first  point,  that  sinners  are  truly  foolish, 
and,  in  the  second,  that  the  saints  are  truly  wise. 

First  Point.     Sinners  are  truly  foolish. 

1.  What  greater  folly  can  be  conceived  than  to  have 
the  power  of  being  the  friends  of  God,  and  to  wish  to 
be  his  enemies  ?  Their  living  in  enmity  with  God 
makes  the  life  of  sinners  unhappy  in  this  world,  and 
purchases  for  them  an  eternity  of  misery  hereafter 
St.  Augustine  relates  that  two  courtiers  of  the  emperor 
entered  a  monastery  of  hermits,  and  that  one  of  them 
began  to  read  the  life  of  St.  Anthony.  "  He  read/' 
says  the  saint,  "  and  his  heart  was  divested  of  the 


SERMON    V. 


world."     He  read,  and,  in  reading,  his  affections  were 
detached  from  the  Earth.     Turning  to  his  companion 
he  exclaimed  :  "  What  do  we  seek  ?     The  friendship  of 
the  emperor  is  the  most  we  can  hope  for.     And  through 
how  many  perils  shall  we  arrive  at  still  greater  danger  ? 
Should  we  obtain  his  friendship,  how  long  shall  it  last  ?" 
Friend,  said  he,  fools  that  we  are,  what  do  we  seek  ? 
Can  we  expect  more  in  this  life,  by  serving  the  emperor, 
than  to  gain  his  friendship  ?     And  should  we,  after  many 
dangers,  succeed  in  making  him  our  friend,  we  shall 
expose  ourselves  to  greater  danger  of  eternal  perdition. 
What  difficulties  must  we  encounter  in  order  to  become 
the  friend  of  Caesar  I     "  But,  if  I  wish,  I  can  in  a  moment 
become  the  friend  of  God."     I  can  acquire  his  friend 
ship  by  endeavouring  to  recover  his  grace.     His  divine 
grace  is  that  infinite  treasure  which  makes  us  worthy 
of  his  friendship.     "  For  she  is  an  infinite  treasure  to 
men,  which  they  that  use  become  the  friends  of  God  " 
(Wis.  vii.  14.) 

2.  The  Gentiles  believe  it  impossible  for  a  creature  to 
become  ^the  friend  of  God ;  for,  as  St.    Jerome   says, 
friendship  makes  friends  equal.     "Amicitia  pares  ac- 
cipit,  aut  pares  facit."     But  Jesus  Christ  has  declared, 
that  if  we  observe  his  commands  we  shall  be  his  friends. 

'  You  are  my  friends,  if  you  do  the  things  I  command."* 
(John  xv.  14.) 

3.  How  great  then  is  the  folly  of  sinners,  who,  though 
they  have  it  in  their  power  to  enjoy  the  friendship  of 
God,  wish  to  live  in  enmity  with  him  !     The  Lord  does 
not  hate  any  of  his  creatures:  he  does  not  hate  the  tiger, 
the  viper,  or  the  toad.     "  For  thou  lovest  all  things  that 
are,   and  hatest  none  of  the  things  which  thou  hast 
made."  (Wis.  xi.  25.)     But  he  necessarily  hates  sinners. 
"  Thou  hatest  all  the  workers  of  iniquity."  (Ps.  v.  7.) 
God  cannot  but  hate  sin,  which  is  his  enemy  and  diame 
trically  opposed  to  his   will ;  and  therefore,  in  hating 
sin,  he  necessarily  hates  the  sinner  who  is  united  with 
his  sin.     "  But  to  God  the  wicked  and  his  wickedness 
are  hateful  alike.'"'  (Wis.  xiv.  9.) 

4.  The   sinner   is   guilty   of  folly  in   leading  a  life 
opposed  to  the  end  for  which  he  was  created.     God  has 
not  created  us,  nor  does  he  preserve  our  lives,  that  we 


IN    WHAT   TRUE    WISDOM    CONSISTS.  45 

may  labour  to  acquire  riches  or  earthly  honours,  or  that 
we  may  indulge  in  amusements,  but  that  we  may  love 
and  serve  him  in  this  world,  in  order  to  love  and  enjoy 
him  for  eternity  in  the  next.  "  And  the  end  life  ever 
lasting."  (Rom.  vi.  22.)  Thus  the  present  life,  as  St. 
Gregory  says,  is  the  way  by  which  we  must  reach  Para 
dise,  our  true  country.  "  In  the  present  life  we  are,  as 
it  were,  on  the  road  by  which  we  journey  to  our 
country."  (St.  Greg.  hom.  xi.  in  Evan.) 

5.  But  the  misfortune  of  the  greater  part  of  mankind 
is,  that  instead  of  following  the  way  of  salvation,  they 
foolishly  walk  in  the  road  to  perdition,.     Some  have  a 
passion  for  earthly  riches  ;  and,  for  a  vile  interest,  they 
lose  the  immense  goods  of  Paradise :  others  have  a  pas 
sion  for  honours  ;  and,  for  a  momentary  applause,  they 
lose  their  right  to  be  kings  in  Heaven  :  others  have  a 
passion  for  sensual  pleasures  ;  and,  foi?  transitory   de 
lights,  they  lose  the  grace  of  God,  and  are  condemned 
to°  burn  for  ever  in  a  prison  of  fire.     Miserable  souls  ! 
if,  in  punishment  of  a  certain  sin,  their  hand  was  to  be 
burned  with  a  red-hot  iron,  or  if  they  were  to  be  shut 
up  for  ten  years  in  a  dark  prison,  they  certainly  would 
abstain  from  it.     And  do  they  not  know  that,  in  chas 
tisement  of  their  sins,  they  shall  be  condemned  to  remain 
for  ever  in  Hell,  where  their  bodies,  buried  in  fire,  shall 
burn  for  all   eternity?      Some,    says  St.  John  Chry- 
sostom  (Hom.  de  recup.  laps?),  to  save  the  body,  choose 
to  destroy  the  soul ;  but,  do  they  not  know  that,  m 
losing  the  soul,  their  bodies   shall  be   condemned   to 
eternal  torments  ?     "  If  we  neglect  the  soul,  we  cannot 
save  the  body" 

6.  In  a  word,  sinners  lose  their  reason,  and  imitate 
brute  animals,  that  follow  the  instinct  of  <  nature,  and 
seek  carnal  pleasures  without  ever  reflecting  on  their 
lawfulness  or  unlawfulness.  But  to  act  in  this  manner 
is,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  to  act  not  like  a  man, 
but  like  a  beast.  "  Hominem  ilium  dicimus"  says  the 
saint/'  "qui  imaginem  hominis  salvam  retinet :  qua 
autem  est  imago  hominis  1  Rationalem  esse"  To  be  men 
we  must  be  rational:  that  is,  we  must  act,  not  according 
to  the  sensual  appetite,  but  according  to  the  dictates  ol 
reason.  If  God  gave  to  beasts  the  use  of  reason,  and  it 


SERMON    V. 


they  acted  according  to  its  rules,  we  should  say  that  they 
acted  like  men.  And  it  must,  on  the  other  hand,  be 
said,  that  the  man  whose  conduct  is  agreeable  to  the 
senses,  but  contrary  to  reason,  acts  like  a  beast.  He 
who  follows  the  dictates  of  reason,  provides  for  the 
future.  "Oh!  that  they  would  be  wise,  and  would 
understand,  and  would  provide  for  their  last  end." 
(Deuter.  xxxii.  29.)  He  looks  to  the  future— that  is,  to 
the  account  he  must  render  at  the  hour  of  death,  after 
which  he  shall  be  doomed  to  Hell  or  to  Heaven,  accord 
ing  to  his  merits,  "  Non  est  sapiens/'  says  St.  Bernard, 
"  qui  sibi  non  est."  (Lib.  de  consid.) 

7.  Sinners  think  only  of  the  present,  but  regard  not 
the  end  for  which  they  were  created.  But  what  will  it 
profit  them  to  gain  all  things  if  they  lose  their  last  end, 
which  alone  can  make  them  happy.  "  But  one  thing 
is  necessary."  (Luke  x.  42.)  To  attain  our  end  is  the 
only  thing  necessary  for  us  :  if  we  lose  it,  all  is  lost. 
What  is  this  end  ?  It  is  eternal  life.  "  Finem  vero 
vitam  seternam."  During  life,  sinners  care  but  little 
for  the  attainment  of  their  end.  Each  day  brings  them 
nearer  to  death  and  to  eternity;  but  they  know  not 
their  destination.  Should  a  pilot  who  is  asked  whither 
he  is  going,  answer  that  he  did  not  know,  would  not  all, 
says  St.  .Augustine,  cry  out  that  he  was  bringing  the 
vessel  to  destruction  ?  "  Fac  hominem  perdidisse  quo 
tendit,  et  dicatur  ei :  quo  is  ?  et  dicat,  nescio  :  nonne 
iste  navem  ad  naufragium  perducet  ?"  The  saint  then 
adds :  "  Talis  est  qui  currit  prater  viam."  Such  are 
the  wise  of  the  world,  who  know  how  to  acquire  wealth 
and  honours,  and  to  indulge  in  every  kind  of  amuse 
ment,' but  who  know  not  how  to  save  their  souls.  How 
miserable  the  rich  glutton,  who,  though  able  to  lay  up 
riches  and  to  live  splendidly,  was,  after  death,  buried 
in  Hell !  How  miserable  Alexander  the  Great,  who, 
after  gaining  so  many  kingdoms,  was  condemned  to 
eternal  torments  ?  How  great  the  folly  of  Henry  the 
Eighth,  who  rebelled  against  the  Church,  but  seeing  at 
the  hour  of  death  that  his  soul  should  be  lost,  cried  out 
in  despair:  "  Friends,  we  have  lost  all !"  O  God,  how 
many  others  now  weep  in  Hell,  and  exclaim :  "  What 
hath  pride  profited  us?  or  what  advantage  hath  the 


IN    WHAT    TRUE    WISDOM    CONSISTS.  47 

toasting  of  riches  brought  us  ?  All  those  things  are 
passed  away  like  a  shadow."  (Wis.  v.  8.)  In  the  world 
we  made  a  great  figure — we  enjoyed  abundant  riches 
and  honours;  and  now  all  is  passed  away  like  a  shadow, 
and  nothing  remains  for  us  but  to  suffer  and  weep  for 
eternity.  St.  Augustine  says,  that  the  happiness  which 
sinners  enjoy  in  this  life  is  their  greatest  misfortune, 
"  Nothing  is  more  calamitous  than  the  felicity  of  sinners, 
by  which  their  perverse  will,  like  an  internal  enemy,  is 
strengthened."  (Ep.  v.  ad  Marcellin.) 

8.  In  fine,  the  words  of  Solomon  are  fulfilled  with 
regard  to  all  who  neglect  their  salvation  :  "  Mourning 
taketh  hold  of  the  end  of  joy."  (Prov.  xiv.  13.)  All 
their  pleasures,  honours,  and  greatness,  end  in  eternal 
sorrow  and  wailing.  "  Whilst  I  was  yet  beginning,  he 
cut  me  off."  (Is.  xxxviii.  12.)  Whilst  they  are  laying 
the  foundation  of  their  hopes  of  realizing  a  fortune, 
death  comes,  and,  cutting  the  thread  of  life,  deprives 
them  of  all  their  possessions,  and  sends  them  to  Hell  to 
burn  for  ever  in  a  pit  of  fire.  What  greater  folly  can 
be  conceived,  than  to  wish  to  be  transformed  from  the 
friend  of  God  into  the  slave  of  Lucifer,  and  from  the 
heir  of  Paradise  to  become,  by  sin,  doomed  to  Hell  ? 
For,  the  moment  a  Christian  commits  a  mortal  sin,  his 
name  is  written  among  the  number  of  the  damned  !  St. 
Francis  de  Sales  said  that,  if  the  angels  were  capable  of 
weeping,  they  would  do  nothing  else  than  shed  tears  at 
the  sight  of  the  destruction  which  a  Christian  who  com 
mits  mortal  sin  brings  upon  himself. 

9.  Oh !  how  great  is  the  folly  of  sinners,  who,  by 
living  in  sin,  lead  a  life  of  misery  and  discontent !  All 
the  goods  of  this  world  cannot  content  the  heart  of 
man,  which  has  been  created  to  love  God,  and  can  find 
no  peace  out  of  God.  What  are  all  the  grandeurs  and 
all  the  pleasures  of  this  world  but  "vanity  of  vanities'!" 
(Eccl.  i.  2.)  What  are  they  but  "  vanity  and  vexation  of 
spirit?"  (Ibid.  iv.  16.)  Earthly  goods  are,  according 
to  Solomon,  who  had  experience  of  them,  _  vanity  of 
vanities  ;  that  is  mere  vanities,  lies,  and  deceits.  They 
are  also  a  "  vexation  of  spirit :"  they  not  only  do  not 
content,  but  they  even  afflict  the  soul ;  and  the  more 
abundantly  they  are  possessed,  the  greater  the  anguish 


43  SERMOX   V. 


which  they  produce.  Sinners  hope  to  find  peace  in  their 
sins ;  but  what  peace  can  they  enjoy  ?  "  There  is  no 
peace  to  the  wicked,  saith  the  Lord."  (Is.  xlviii.  22.)  I 
abstain  from  saying  more  at  present  on  the  unhappy  life 
of  sinners :  I  shall  speak  of  it  in  another  place.  At 
present,  it  is  enough  for  you  to  know  that  God  gives 
peace  to  the  souls  who  love  him,  and  not  to  those  who 
despise  him.  Instead  of  seeking  to  be  the  friends  of 
God,  sinners  wish  to  be  the  slaves  of  Satan,  who  is  a 
cruel  and  merciless  tyrant  to  all  who  submit  to  his  yoke. 
"  Crudelis  est  et  non  miserebitur."  (Jer.  vi.  23.)  And 
if  he  promises  delights,  he  does  it,  as  St.  Cyprian  says, 
not  for  our  welfare,  but  that  we  may  be  the  companions 
of  his  torments  in  hell :  "  Ut  habeat  socios  pccna3,  socios 
gehenna)." 

Second  Point.     The  saints  are  truly  wise. 

10.  Let  us  be  persuaded  that  the  truly  wise  are  those 
who  know  how  to  love  God  and  to  gain  Heaven.  Happy 
the  man  to  whom  God  has  given  the  science  of  the  saints. 
"Dedit  illi  scientiam  sanctorum/'  (Wis.  x.  10.)     Oh! 
how  sublime  the  science  which  teaches  us  to  know  how 
to  love  God  and  to  save  our  souls !     Happy,  says  St. 
Augustine,  is  the  man  "  ^uho  knows  God,  although  he  is 
ignorant  of  other  things."     They  who  know  God,  the 
love  which  he  merits,  and  how  to  love  him,  stand  not  in 
need  of  any  other  knowledge.    They  are  wiser  than  those 
who  are  masters  of  many  sciences,  but  know  not  how  to 
love  God.     Brother  Egidius,  of  the  order  of  St.  Francis, 
once  said  to  St.  Bonaventure :  Happy  you,  0  Father 
Bonayenture,  who  are  so  learned,   and  who,  by  your 
learning,  can  become  more  holy  than  I  can,  who  am  a 
poor  ignorant  man.     Listen,  replied  the  saint :  if  an  old 
woman  knows  how  to  love  God  better  than  I  do,  she  is 
more  learned  and  more  holy  than  I  am.    At  hearing  this, 
Brother  Egidius  exclaimed':  "  0  poor  old  woman  !  poor 
old  woman  !  Father  Bonaventure  says  that,  if  you  love 
God  more  than  he  does,  you  can  surpass  him  in  sanctity." 

11.  This   excited  the   envy    of  St.   Augustine,    and 
made  him  ashamed  of  himself.     "  Surgunt  indocti,"  he 
exclaimed,  "  et  rapiunt  coelum."     Alas  !  the  ignorant 
rise  up,  and  bear  away  the  kingdom  of  Heaven  ;  and 


IN   WHAT  TRUE   WISDOM   CONSISTS.  49 

what  are  we,  the  learned  of  this  world,  doing  ?  Oh  ! 
how  many  of  the  rude  and  illiterate  are  saved,  because, 
though  unable  to  read,  they  know  how  to  love  God ;  and 
how  many  of  the  wise  of  the  world  are  damned !  Oh ! 
truly  wise  were  St.  John  of  God,  St.  Felix  of  the  order 
of  St.  Capuchins,  and  St.  Paschal,  who  were  poor  lay 
Franciscans,  and  unacquainted  with  human  sciences,  but 
learned  in  the  science  of  the  saints.  But  the  wonder  is, 
that,  though  worldlings  themselves  are  fully  persuaded 
of  this  truth,  and  constantly  extol  the  merit  of  those  who 
retire  from  the  world  to  live  only  to  God,  still  they  act 
as  if  they  believed  it  not. 

12.  Tell  me,  brethren,  to  which  class  do  you  wish  to 
belong — to  the  wise  of  the  world,  or  to  the  wise  of  God? 
Before  you  make  a  choice,  St.  Chrysostom  advises  you 
to  go  to  the  graves  of  the  dead  !     "  Prqficiscamur  ad 
sepulchral     Oh !  how  eloquently  do  the  sepulchres  of 
the  dead  teach  us  the  science  of  the  saints  and  the  vanity 
of  all  earthly  goods  !     "  For  my  part,"  said  the  saint, 
"  I  see  nothing  but  rottenness,  bones,  and  worms/'     As 
if  he  said  :  Among  these  skeletons  I  cannot  distinguish 
the  noble,  the  rich,  or  the  learned  ;  I  see  that  they  have 
all  become  dust  and  rottenness  :  thus  all  their  greatness 
and  glory  have  passed  away  like  a  dream. 

13.  What  then  must  we  do  ?    Behold  the  advice  of 
St.  Paul :  "  This,  therefore,  I  say,  brethren :  the  time 
is  short :  it  remaineth  that . . .  they  that  use  this  world 
BE  as  if  they  used  it  not ;  for  the  fashion  of  this  world 
passeth  away."  (1  Cor.  vii.  29-31.)      This  world  is  a 
scene  which  shall  pass  away  and  end  very  soon  .  "  The 
time  is  short."     During  the  days  of  life  that  remain,  let 
us  endeavour  to  live  like  men  who  are  wise,  not  accord 
ing  to  the  world,  but  according  to  God,  by  attending  to 
the  sanctification  of  our  souls,  and  by  adopting  the  means 
of  salvation  ;  by  flying  dangerous  occasions  ;  by  practis 
ing  prayer ;   joining  some  pious  sodality ;   frequenting 
the  sacraments ;  reading  every  day  a  spiritual  book ; 
and  by  daily  hearing  Mass,  if  it  be  in  our  power ;  or,  at 
least,  by  visiting  Jesus  in  the  holy  sacrament  of  the 
altar,  and  some  image  of  the  most  holy  Mary.     Thus 
we  shall  be  truly  wise,  and  shall  be  happy  for  time  and 
eternity. 


50  SERMON   VI. 


SERMON  VI.— MALICE  OF  MORTAL  SIN. 

"  Behold,  thy  father  and  I  have  sought  thee  sorrowing.1' — LUKE  ii.  48. 

MOST  holy  Mary  lost  her  Son  for  three  days :  during 
that  time  she  wept  continually  for  having  lost  sight  of 
Jesus,  and  did  not  cease  to  seek  after  him  till  she  found 
him.  How  then  does  it  happen  that  so  many  sinners 
not  only  lose  sight  of  Jesus,  hut  even  lose  his  divine 
grace  ;  and  instead  of  weeping  for  so  great  a  loss,  sleep 
in  peace,  and  make  no  effort  to  recover  so  great^a  bless 
ing  ?  This  arises  from  their  not  feeling  what  it  is  to  lose 
God  by  sin.  Some  say  :  I  commit  this  sin,  not  to  lose 
God,  but  to  enjoy  this  pleasure,  to  possess  the  property 
of  another,  or  to  take  revenge  of  an  enemy.  They  who 
speak  such  language  show  that  they  do  not  ^  understand 
the  malice  of  mortal  sin.  What  is  mortal  sin  ? 

First  Point.    It  is  a  great  contempt  shown  to  God. 
Second  Point.    It  is  a  great  offence  offered  to  God. 

First  Point.  Mortal  sin  is  a  great  contempt  shown 
to  God. 

1.  The  Lord  calls  upon  Heaven  and  Earth  to  detest 
the  ingratitude  of  those  who  commit  mortal  sin,  after 
they  had  been  created  by  him,  nourished  with  his  blood, 
and  exalted  to  the  dignity  of  his  adopted  children. 
"  Hear,  O  ye  Heavens,  and  give  ear,  0  Earth  ;  for  the 
Lord  hath  spoken.  I  have  brought  up  children  _  and 
exalted  them  ;  but  they  have  despised  me."  (Isa.  i.  2.) 
Who  is  this  God  whom  sinners  despise  ?  ;  He  is  a  God 
of  infinite  majesty,  before  whom  all  the  kings  of  the 
Earth  and  all  the  blessed  in  Heaven  are  less  than  a  drop 
of  water  or  a  grain  of  sand.  As  a  drop  of  a  bucket, . . . 
as  a  little  dust/'  (Isa.  xl.  15.)  In  a  word,  such  is  the 
majesty  of  God,  that  in  his  presence  all  creatures  are  as 
if  they  did  not  exist.  "  All  nations  are  before  him  as 
if  they  had  no  being  at  all."  (Ibid.  xl.  17.)  And  what 
is  man,  who  insults  him?  St.  Bernard  answers:  "  Saccus 
vermium,  cibus  vermium."  A  heap  of  worms,  the  food 


MALICE    OF    MORTAL    SIX. 


51 


of  worms,  by  which  he  shall  be  devoured  in  the  grave. 
"  Thou  art  wretched  and  miserable,  and  poor,  and  blind, 
and  naked."  (Apoc.  iii.  17.)  He  is  so  miserable  that  he 
can  do  nothing,  so  blind  that  he  knows  nothing,  and  so 
poor  that  he  possesses  nothing.  And  this  worm  dares  to 
despise  a  God,  and  to  provoke  his  wrath.  "  Vile  dust," 
says  the  same  saint,  "  dares  to  irritate  such  tremendous 
majesty."  Justly,  then,  has  St.  Thomas  asserted,  that 
the  malice  of  mortal  sin  is,  as  it  were,  infinite  :  "  Pecca- 
tum  habet  quandam  infinitatem  malitiae  ex  infinitatem 
divine  majestatis."  (Par.  3,  q.  2,^  a.  2,  ad.  2.)  And  St. 
Augustine  calls  it  an  infinite  evil.  Hence  Hell  and  a 
thousand  Hells  are  not  sufficient  chastisement  for  a  single 
mortal  sin. 

2.  Mortal  sin  is  commonly  defined  by  theologians  to 
be  <(  a  turning  away  from  the  immutable  good."     St. 
Thorn.,  par.  1,  q.  24,  a.  4  ;  a  turning  one's  back  on  the 
sovereign  good.     Of  this  God  complains  by  his  prophet, 
saying:  "  Thou  hast  forsaken  me,  saith  the  Lord;  thou 
art  gone  backward/'  (Jer.  xv.  6.)     Ungrateful  man,  he 
says  to  the  sinner,  I  would  never  have  separated  myself 
from  thee  ;  thou  hast  been  the  first  to  abandon  me :  tkou 
art  gone  backwards;  thou  hast  turned  thy  back  upon 
me. 

3.  He  who  contemns  the  divine  law  despises  God; 
because  he  knows  that,  by  despising  the  law,  he  loses 
the  divine  grace.     "  By  transgression  of  the  law,  thou 
dishonourest  God."  (Rom.  ii.  23.)     God  is  the  Lord  of 
all  things,  because  he  has  created  them.     "  All  things 
are  in  thy  power... Thou  hast  made  Heaven  and  Earth." 
(Esth.  xiii.  9.)  Hence  all  irrational  creatures — the  winds, 
the  sea,  the  fire,  and  rain — obey  God,     "  The  winds  and 
the  sea  obey  him."  (Matt.  viii.  27.)     "  Fire,  hail,  snow, 
ice,  stormy  winds,  which  fulfil  his  word."  (Ps.  cxlviii. 
8.)     But  man,  when  he  sins,  says  to  God :  Lord,  thou 
dost  command  me,   but  I  will   not   obey ;  thou  dost 
command  me  to  pardon  such  an  injury,  but  I  will  resent 
it ;  thou  dost  command  me  to  give  up  the  property  of 
others,  but  I  will  retain  it ;  thou  dost  wish  that  I  should 
abstain   from   such   a   forbidden   pleasure,    but   I   will 
indulge  in  it.     "  Thou  hast  broken  my  yoke,  thou  hast 
burst  my  bands,  and  thou  saidst :  '  I  will  not  serve/  " 


52  SERMON   VI. 


(Jer.  ii.  20.)  In  fine,  the  sinner  when  he  creaks  the 
command,  says  to  God:  I  do  not  acknowledge  thee  for 
my  Lord.  Like  Pharaoh,  when  Moses,  on  the  part  of 
God,  commanded  him  in  the  name  of  the  Lord  to  allow 
the  people  to  go  into  the  desert,  the  sinner  answers  : 
"  Who  is  the  Lord,  that  I  should  hear  his  voice,  and  let 
Israel  go  ?"  (Exod.  v.  2.) 

4.  The  insult  offered  to  God  by  sin  is  heightened  by 
the  vileness  of  the  goods  for  which  sinners  offend  him. 
"  Wherefore  hath  the  wicked  provoked  God."  (Ps.  x. 
13.)     For  what  do  so  many  offend  the  Lord  ?     For  a 
little  vanity ;  for  the  indulgence   of  anger ;  or  for   a 
beastly  pleasure.     "  They  violate  me  among  my  people 
for  a  handful  of  barley  and  a  piece  of  bread."  (Ezec.  xiii. 
19.)     God  is  insulted  for  a  handful  of  barley — for  a 
morsel  of  bread  !     0  God  !  why  do  we  allow  ourselves 
to  be  so  easily  deceived  by  the  Devil  ?     "  There  is,"  says 
the  Prophet  Osee,  t(  a  deceitful  balance  in  his  hand." 
(xii.  7.)     We  do  not  weigh  things  in  the  balance  of  God, 
which  cannot  deceive,  but  in  the  balance  of  Satan,  who 
seeks  only  to  deceive  us,  that  he  may  bring  us  with  him 
self  into  Hell.     "  Lord,"  said  David,  "  who  is  like  to 
thee  ?"  (Ps.  xxxiv.  10.)     God  is  an  infinite  good  ;  and 
when  he  sees  sinners  put  him  on  a  level  with  some 
earthly  trifle,  or  with  a  miserable  gratification,  he  justly 
complains  in  the  language  of  the  prophet:  "  To  whom, 
have  you  likened  me  or  made  rne  equal  ?  saith  the  Holy 
One."  (Isa.  xl.  25.)     In  your  estimation,  a  vile  pleasure 
is  more  valuable  than  my  grace.  Is  it  a  momentary  satis 
faction  you  have  preferred  before  me  ?     "  Thou  hast  cast 
me  off  behind  thy  back."  (Ezec.  xxiii.  35.)     Then,  adds 
Salvian,  "  there  is  no  one  for  whom  men  have  less  esteem 
than  for  God."  (Lib.  v.,  Avd.  Avar.)     Is  the  Lord  so 
contemptible  in  your  eyes  as  to  deserve  to  have  the 
miserable  things  of  the  Earth  preferred  before  him  ? 

5.  The  tyrant  placed  before  St.  Clement  a  heap  of  gold, 
of  silver,  and  of  gems,  and  promised  to  give  them  to  the 
holy  martyr  if  he  would  renounce  the  faith  of  Christ. 
The  saint  heaved  a  sigh  of  sorrow  at  the  sight  of  the 
blindness  of  men,  who  put  earthly  riches  in  comparison 
with  God.     But  many  sinners  exchange  the  divine  grace 
for  things  of  far  less  value ;  they  seek  after  certain 


MALICE   OF   MORTAL   SIN.  53 


miserable  goods,  and  abandon  that  God  who  is  an  infinite 
good,  and  who  alone  can  make  them  happy.  Of  this  the 
Lord  complains,  and  calls  on  the  Heavens  to  be  astonished, 
and  on  its  gates  to  be  struck  with  horror:  "  Be  astonished' 
O  ye  Heavens,  at  this  ;  and  ye  gates  thereof,  be  very 
desolate,  saith  the  Lord."  He  then  adds :  "  For  my 
people^have  done  two  evils:  they  have  forsaken  me,  the 
fountain  of  living  water,  and  have  digged  to  themselves 
cisterns — broken  cisterns — that  can  hold  no  water."  (Jer. 
ii.  12  and  13.)  We  regard  with  wonder  and  amazement 
the  injustice  of  the  Jews,  who,  when  Pilate  offered  to 
deliver  Jesus  or  Barabbas,  answered :  "  Not  this  man, 
but  Barabbas."  (John  xviii.  40.)  The  conduct  of  sinners 
is  still  worse ;  for,  when  the  Devil  proposes  to  them  to 
choose  between  the  satisfaction  of  revenge— a  miserable 
pleasure—and  Jesus  Christ,  they  answer:  "Not  this 
man,  but  Barabbas."  That  is,  not  the  Lord  Jesus,  but 
sin. 

6.  "  There  shall  be  no  new  God  in  thee,"  says  the 
Lord.  (Ps.  Ixxx.  10.)  You  shall  not  abandon  me,  your 
true  God,  and  make  for  yourself  a  new  god,  whom  you 
shall  serve.  St.  Cyprian  teaches  that  men  make  their 
god  whatever  they  prefer  before  God,  by  making  it  their 
last  end ;  for  God  is  the  only  last  end  of  all :  "  Quidquid 
homo  Deo  anteponit,  Deum  sibi  facit."  And  St.  Jerome 
says :  "  Unusquisque  quod  cupit,  si  veneratur,  hoc  illi 
Deus  est.  Vitium  in  corde,  est  idolum  in  altari."  (In  Ps. 
Ixxx.)  The  creature  which  a  person  prefers  to  God, 
becomes  his  God.  Hence,  the  holy  doctor  adds,  that  as 
the  Gentiles  adored  idols  on  their  altars,  so  sinners  wor 
ship  sin  in  their  hearts.  When  King  Jeroboam  rebelled 
against  God,  he  endeavoured  to  make  the  people  imitate 
him  in  the  adoration  of  idols.  He  one  day  placed  the 
idols  before  them,  and  said :  "  Behold  thy  gods,  0  Israel !" 
(3  Kings  xii.  28.)  The  Devil  acts  in  a  similar  manner 
towards  sinners:  he  places  before  them  such  a  gratifica 
tion,  and  says:  Make  this  your  God.  Behold!  this 
pleasure,  this  money,  this  revenge  is  your  God:  adhere 
to  these,  and  forsake  the  Lord.  When  the  sinner  con 
sents  to  sin,  he  abandons  his  Creator,  and  in  his  heart 
adores  as^  his  god  the  pleasure  which  lie  indulges. 
"  Yitium  in  corde  est  idolum  in  altari/' 


SERMON   VI. 


7.  The  contempt  which  the  sinner  offers  to  God  is 
increased  by  sinning  in  God's  presence.     According  to 
St.  Cyril  of  Jerusalem,  some  adored  the  sun  as  their  god, 
that  during  the  night  they  might,  in  the  absence  of  the 
sun,  do  what  they  pleased,  without  fear  of  divine  chas 
tisement.     "  Some  regarded  the  sun  as  their  God,  that, 
after  the  setting  of  the  sun,  they  might  be  without  a  god." 
(Catech.  iv.)     The  conduct  of  these  miserable  dupes  was 
very  criminal ;    but  they  were  careful   not  to   sin   in 
presence  of  their  god.     But  Christians  know  that  God  is 
present  in  all  places,  and  that  he  sees  all  things.     "  Do 
not  I  fill  Heaven  and  Earth  ?  saith  the  Lord,"  (Jer.  xxiii. 
24)  ;  and  still  they  do  not  abstain  from  insulting  him, 
and  from  provoking  his  wrath  in  his  very  presence  : 
*'  A  people  that  continually  provoke  me  to  anger  before 
my  face."  (Isa.  Ixv.  3.)     Hence,  by  sinning  before  him 
who  is  their  judge,  they  even  make  God  a  witness  of 
their  iniquities  :  "  I  am  the  judge  and  the  witness,  saith 
the  Lord."  (Jer.  xxix.  23.)     St.  Peter  Chrysologus  says, 
that,  "  the  man  who  commits  a  crime  in  the  presence  of 
his  judge,   can   offer  no    defence."      The   thought   of 
having  offended  God  in  his  divine  presence,  made  David 
weep  and  exclaim  :  "  To  thee  only  have  I  sinned,  and 
have  done  evil  before  thee."  (Ps.  i.  6.)     But  let  us  pass 
to  the  second  point,  in  which  we  shall  see  more  clearly 
the  enormity  of  the  malice  of  mortal  sin. 

Second  Point.     Mortal  sin  is  a  great  offence  offered 
to  God. 

8.  There  is  nothing  more  galling  than  to  see  oneself 
despised  by  those  who  were  most  beloved   and   most 
highly   favoured.      Whom   do   sinners  insult  ?      They 
insult  a  God  who  bestowed  so  many  benefits  upon  them, 
and  who  loved  them  so  as  to  die  on  a  cross  for  their 
sake  ;  and  by  the  commission  of  mortal  sin  they  banish 
that  God  from  their  hearts.     A  soul  that  loves  God  is 
loved  by  him,  and  God  himself  comes  to  dwell  within 
her.     "  If  any  one  love  me,  he  will  keep  my  word,  and 
my  Father  will  love  him,  and  we  will  come  to  him,  and 
will  make  our  abode  with  him."  (John  xiv.  23.)     The 
Lord,  then,  never  departs  from  a  soul,  unless  he  is  driven 
away,  even  though  he  should  know  that  she  will  soon. 


MALICE    OP   MORTAL   SIN.  55 

banish  him  from  her  heart.     According  to  the  Council  of 
Trent,  "  he  deserts  not  the  soul,  unless  he  is  deserted." 

9.  When  the  soul  consents  to  mortal  sin  she  ungrate 
fully  says  to  God:  Depart  from  me.     "  The  wicked  have 
said  to  God :  Depart  from  us."    (Job  xxi.  14.)     Sinners, 
as  St.  Gregory  observes,  say  the  same,  not  in  words,  but 
by  their  conduct.     "  Recede,  non  verbis,  sed  moribus." 
They  know  that  God  cannot  remain  with  sin  in  the  soul : 
and,  in  violating  the  divine  commands,  they  feel  that 
God  must  depart ;  and,  by  their  acts  they  say  to  him  : 
since  you  cannot  remain  any  longer  with  us,  depart — 
farewell.     And  through  the  very  door  by  which  God 
departs  from  the  soul,  the  Devil  enters  to  take  possession 
of  her.     When  the  priest  baptizes  an  infant,  he  com 
mands  the  demon  to  depart  from  the  soul:  "  Go  out  from 
him,  unclean  spirits,  and  make  room  for  the  Holy 
Ghost."     But  when  a  Christian  consents  to  mortal  sin, 
he  says  to  God  :  Depart  from  me ;  malce  room-  for  the 
Devil,  whom  I  wish  to  serve. 

10.  St.  Bernard  says,  that  mortal  sin  is  so  opposed  to 
God,  that,  if  it  were  possible  for  God  to  die,  sin  would 
deprive  him  of  life ;  "  Peccatum  quantum  in  se  est  Deum 
perimit."    Hence,  according  to  Job,  in  committing  mortal 
sin,  man  rises  up  against  God,  and  stretches  forth  his 
hand  against  him  :  "  For  he  hath  stretched  out  his  hand 
against  God,  and  hath  strengthened  himself  against  the 
Almighty."  (Job.  xv.  25.) 

11.  According  to  the  same  St.  Bernard,  they  who  wil 
fully  violate  the  divine  law,  seek  to  deprive  God  of  life 
in  proportion  to  the  malice  of  their  will ;  "  Quantum  in 
ipsa  est  Deum  perimit  propria  voluntas."  (Ser.  iii.  de  Res.) 
Because,  adds  the  saint,  self-will  "  would  wish  God  to 
see  its  own  sins,  and  to  be  unable  to  take  vengeance  on 
them."     Sinners  know  that  the  moment  they  consent  to 
mortal  sin,  God  condemns  them  to  Hell.     Hence,  being 
firmly  resolved  to  sin,  they  wish  that  there  was  no  God, 
and,  consequently,  they  would  wish  to  take  away  his 
life,  that  he  might  not  be  able  to  avenge  their  crime. 
*'  He  hath,"  continues  Job,   in  his  description   of  the 
wicked,  "  run  against  him  witb  his  neck  raised  up,  and 
is  armed  with  a  fat  neck."  (xv.  26.)     The  sinner  raises 
his  neck ;  that  is,  his  pride  swells  up,  and  he  runs  to 


56 


SERMON    VI. 


insult  his  God  ;  and,  because  he  contends  with  a  power 
ful  antagonist,  "  he  is  armed  with  a  fat  neck."  "  A  fat 
nech"  is  the  symbol  of  ignorance,  of  that  ignorance 
which  makes  the  sinner  say :  This  is  not  a  great  sin ; 
God  is  merciful ;  we  are  flesh  ;  the  Lord  will  have  pity  on 
us.  O  temerity!  0  illusion!  which  brings  so  many 
Christians  to  Hell. 

Moreover,  the  man  who  commits  a  mortal  sin  afflicts 
the  heart  of  God.  "  But  they  provoked  to  wrath,  and 
afflicted  the  spirit  of  the  Holy  One."  (Isaias  Ixiii.  10.) 
"What  pain  and  anguish  would  you  not  feel,  if  you  knew 
that  a  person  whom  you  tenderly  loved,  and  on  whom 
you  bestowed  great  favours,  had  sought  to  take  away 
your  life  !  God  is  not  capable  of  pain ;  but,  were  he 
capable  of  suffering,  a  single  mortal  sin  would  be  suffi 
cient  to  make  him  die  through  sorrow.  "  Mortal  sin," 
says  Father  Medina,  u  if  it  were  possible,  would  destroy 
God  himself :  because  it  would  be  the  cause  of  infinite 
sadness  to  God."  As  often,  then,  as  you  committed 
mortal  sin,  you  would,  if  it  were  possible,  have  caused 
God  to  die  of  sorrow  ;  because  you  knew  that  by  sin  you 
insulted  him  and  turned  your  back  upon  him,  after  he 
had  bestowed  so  many  favours  upon  you,  and  even  after 
he  had  given  all  his  blood  and  his  life  for  your  salvation. 

\_An  act  of  sorrow t  etc.} 


SERMON  VII.— SECOND  SUNDAY  AFTER  THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On  the  confidence  with  which  we  ought  to  recommend  our 
selves  to  the  Mother  of  God* 

"  And  the  wine  failing,  the  Mother  of  Jesus  saith  to  him  :  They  have 
no  wme." — JOHN  ii.  3. 

IN  the  Gospel  of  this  day  we  read  that  Jesus  Christ, 
having  been  invited,  went  with  his  holy  mother  to  a 
marriage  of  Cana  of  Galilee.  "  The  wine  failing,''  Mary 

*  In  a  notice  to  the  reader,  prefixed  to  the  Glories  of  Mary,  St. 
Alphonsus  explains  the  sense  in  which  he  wished  his  doctrine  regard 
ing  the  privileges  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  to  be  understood.  °  He 


ON  RECOMMENDING  OURSELVES  TO  THE  B.  V.  MARY.     57 

said  to  her  divine  Son :  "  They  have  no  wine."  By 
these  words  she  intended  to  ask  her  Son  to  console  the 
spouses,  who  were  afflicted  because  the  wine  had  failed. 
Jesus  answered:  "Woman,  what  is  it  to  me  and  to 
thee  ?  my  hour  is  not  yet  come."  (John  ii.  4.)  He 
meant  that  the  time  destined  for  the  performance  of 
miracles  was  that  of  his  preaching  through  Judea.  But, 
though  his  answer  appeared  to  be  a  refusal  of  the  request 
of  Mary,  the  Son,  says  St.  Chrysostom,  resolved  to  yield 
to  the  desire  of  the  mother.  "  Although  he  said,  '  my 
hour  is  not  yet  come,'  he  granted  the  petition  of  his 
mother."  (Horn,  in  ii.  Joan.)  Mary  said  to  the  waiters: 
"  Whatever  he  shall  say  to  you,  do  ye."  Jesus  bid 
them  fill  the  water-pots  with  water — the  water  was 
changed  into  the  most  excellent  wine.  Thus  the  bride 
groom  and  the  entire  family  were  filled  with  gladness. 
From  the  fact  related  in  this  day's  gospel,  let  us  consider, 
in  the  first  point,  the  greatness  of  Mary's  power  to  obtain 
from  God  the  graces  which  we  stand  in  need  of ;  and 

concludes  this  explanation  in  the  following  words  :  "  Then,  to  say  all 
in  a  few  words,  the  God  of  all  holiness,  in  order  to  glorify  the  Mother 
of  the  Redeemer,  has  decreed  and  ordained,  that  her  great  charity 
should  pray  for  all  those  for  whom  her  Divine  Son  has  paid  and 
offered  the  most  superabundant  price  of  his  precious  blood,  in  which 
alone  is  '  our  salvation,  life,  and  resurrection?  And  on  the  foundation 
of  this  doctrine,  and  inasmuch  as  they  accord  with  it,  I  have  intended 
to  lay  down  my  propositions,  which  the  saints,  in  their  affectionate 
colloquies  with  Mary,  and  in  their  fervent  discourses  upon  her,  have 
not  hesitated  to  assert."  Glories  of  Mary.  Monza  Edition,  vol.  i.,  pp. 
11,  12. 

In  the  third  chapter  of  the  first  volume  (pp.  123,  124),  St.  Alphonsus 
compares  the  hope  which  we  place  in  the  Blessed  Virgin  to  the  con 
fidence  which  a  person  has  in  a  minister  of  state  whom  he  asks  to  pro 
cure  a  favour  from  his  sovereign. 

"Whatsoever  Mary  obtains  for  us,  she  obtains  it  through  the 
merits  of  Jesus  Christ,  and  because  she  prays  in  the  name  of  Jesus 
Christ."  Glories  of  Mary,  vol.  i.,  p.  188. 

* '  Mary,  then,  is  said  to  be  omnipotent  in  the  manner  in  which 
omnipotence  can  be  understood  of  a  creature  ;  for  a  creature  is  inca 
pable  of  a  divine  attribute.  Thus  she  is  omnipotent,  inasmuch  as  she 
obtains  by  her  prayers  whatever  she  asks. "  Ibid.,  p.  223. 

To  obtain  favours  through  the  intercession  of  Mary,  by  practising 
devout  exercises  in  her  honour,  "the  first  condition  is,  that  we  per 
form  our  devotions  with  a  soul  free  from  sin,  or,  at  least,  with  a  desire 
to  give  up  sin."  "If  a  person  wish  to  commit  sin  with  the  hope  of 
being  saved  by  the  Blessed  Virgin,  he  shall  thus  render  himself  un 
worthy  and  incapable  of  her  protection."  Glories  of  Mary,  vol.  ii., 
pp.  325,  326. 


58  SERMON    VII. 


in  the  second,  the  tenderness  of  Mary's  compassion,  and 
her  readiness  to  assist  us  all  in  our  wants. 

First  Point.     The  greatness  of  Mary's  power  to  obtain 
from  God  for  us  all  the  graces  we  stand  in  need  of. 

1.  So  great  is  Mary's  merit  in  the  eyes  of  God,  that, 
according  to  St.  Bonaventure,  her  prayers  are  infallibly 
heard.     "  The  merit  of  Mary  is  so  great  before  God, 
that  her  petition  cannot  be  rejected."  (De  Virg.,  c.  iii.) 
But  why  are  the  prayers  of  Mary  so  powerful  in  the 
sight  of  God  ?     It  is,  says  St.  Antonine,  because  she  is 
his   mother.      u  The   petition   of  the   mother   of  God 
partakes  of  the  nature  of  a  command,  and  therefore  it 
is  impossible  that  she  should  not  be  heard."  (Par.  4,  tit. 
13,  c.   xvii.,  §  4.)     The  prayers  of  the  saints  are  the 
prayers  of  servants ;  but  the  prayers  of  Mary  are  the 
prayers  of  a  mother,   and  therefore,  according  to  the 
holy  doctor,  they  are  regarded  in  a  certain  manner  as 
commands  by  her  Son,  who  loves  her  so  tenderly.     It 
is  then  impossible  that  the  prayers  of  Mary  should  be 
rejected. 

2.  Hence,  according  to  Cosmas  of  Jerusalem,  the  inter 
cession  of  Mary  is  all-powerful.    "  Omnipotens  auxilium 
tutirn,  0  Maria/'     It  is  right,  as  Richard  of  St.  Lawrence 
teaches,  that  the  son  should  impart  his  power  to  the 
mother.     Jesus  Christ,  who  is  all-powerful,  has  made 
Mary  omnipotent,  as  far  as  a  creature  is  capable  of 
omnipotence ;  that  is,  omnipotent  in  obtaining  from  him, 
her  divine  Son,  whatever  she  asks.     "  Cum  autem  eadem 
sit  potestas  filii  et  matris  ab  omnipotente  filio,  omnipotens 
mater  facta  est."  (Lib.  4,  de  Laud.  Virg.) 

3.  St.  Bridget  heard  our  Saviour  one  day  addressing 
the  Virgin  in  the   following   words :  "  Ask  from   me 
whatever  you  wish,  for  your  petition  cannot  be  fruit 
less."  (Rev.  1.  1,  cap.  iv.)     My  mother,  ask  of  me  what 
you  please  ;    I  cannot   reject   any   prayer   which   you 
present  to  me  ;  "  because  since  you  refused  me  nothing 
on  earth,  I  will  refuse  you  nothing  in  Heaven."  (Ibid.) 
St.  George,  Archbishop  of  Nicomedia,  says  that  Jesus 
Christ  hears  all  the  prayers  of  his  mother,  as  if  he  wished 
thereby  to  discharge  the  obligation  which  he  owes  to 
her  for  having  given  to  him  his  human  nature,  by  con- 


ON  RECOMMENDING  OURSELVES  TO  THE  B.  V.  MA.RY.     59 

senting  to  accept  him  for  her  Son.  "  Filius,  exolvens 
debitum  petitiones  tuas  implet."  (Orat.  de  Exitu  Mar.) 
Hence,  St.  Methodius,  martyr,  used  to  say  to  Mary  : 
"  Euge,  euge,  quae  debitorum  habeas  filium,  Deo  enim 
universi  debemus,  tibi  autem  ille  debitor  est."  (Orat, 
Hyp.  Dom.)  Rejoice,  rejoice,  0  holy  virgin ;  for  thou 
hast  for  thy  debtor  that  Son  to  whom  we  are  all  debtors  ; 
to  thee  he  owes  the  human  nature  which  he  received 
from  thee. 

4.  St.   Gregory  of  Nicomedia  encourages  sinners  by 
the  assurance  that,  if  they  have  recourse  to  the  Virgin 
with  a  determination  to  amend  their  lives,  she  will  save 
them  by  her  intercession.     Hence,  turning  to  Mary,  he 
exclaimed :  "  Thou  hast  insuperable  strength,  lest  the 
multitude  of  our  sins  should  overcome  thy  clemency." 
O  mother  of  God,  the  sins  of  a  Christian,  however  great 
they  may  be,  cannot  overcome  thy  mercy.     "  Nothing," 
adds  the  same  saint,  "  resists  thy  power  ;  for  the  Creator 
regards  thy  glory  as  his  own."     Nothing  is  impossible 
to  thee,  says  St.  Peter  Damian :  thou  canst  raise  even 
those  who  are  in  despair  to  hopes  of  salvation.     "  Nihil 
tibi  impossibile,  qua3  etiam  desperates  in  spem  salutis 
potes  relevare."  (Ser.  i.  de  Nat.  B.V.) 

5.  Eichard  of  St.  Lawrence  remarks  that,  in  announc 
ing  to  the  Virgin  that  God  has  chosen  her  for  the  mother 
of  his  Son,  the  Archangel  Gabriel  said  to  her  :  u  Fear 
not,  Mary  ;  for  thou  hast  found  grace  with  God."  (Luke 
i.  30.)     From  which  words  the  same  author  concludes  : 
"  Cupientes   invenire   gratiam,    quoaramus   inventricem 
gratise."     If  we  wish  to  recover  lost  grace,  let  us  seek 
Mary,  by  whom  this  grace  has  been  found      She  never 
lost  the  divine  grace ;  she  always  possessed  it.     If  the 
angel  declared  that  she  had  found  grace,  he  meant  that 
she  had  found  it  not  for  herself,  but  for  us  miserable 
sinners,   who   have    lost   it.      Hence    Cardinal    Hugo 
exhorts  us  to  go  to  Mary,  and  say  to  her  :  O  blessed 
lady,  property  should  be  restored  to  those  who  lost  it : 
the  grace  which  thou  hast  found  is  not  thime— for  thou 
hast  never  lost  the  grace  of  God — but  it  is  ours ;  we 
have  lost  it  through  our  own  fault :  to  us,  then,  thou 
oughtest  to  restore  it.     "Sinners,   who   by   your   sins 
have  forfeited  the  divine  grace,  run  to  the  Virgin,  and 


GO 


SERMON    TIT. 


say  to  her  with  confidence  :  Restore  us  to  our  property, 
which  thou  hast  found." 

6.  It  was  revealed  to  St.  Gertrude,  that  all  the  graces 
which  we  ask  of  God  through  the  intercession  of  Mary, 
shall  be  given  to  us.     She  heard  Jesus  saying  to  his 
divine  mother  :  "  Through  thee  all  who  ask  mercy  with 
a  purpose  of  amending  their  lives,  shall  obtain  grace." 
If  all  Paradise  asked  a  favour  of  God,  and  Mary  asked 
the  opposite  grace,  the  Lord  would  hear  Mary,  and  would 
reject  the  petition  of  the   rest   of  the   celestial   host. 
Because,  says  Father  Suarez,  "  God  loved  the  Virgin 
alone  more  than  all  the  other  saints."     Let  us,  then, 
conclude  this  first  point  in  the  words  of  St.  Bernard : 
"  Let  us  seek  grace,  and  let  us  seek  it  through  Mary  ; 
for  she  is  a  mother,  and  her  petition  cannot  be  rejected." 
(Serm.  de  Aqua$d.)     Let  us  seek  through  Mary  all  the 
graces  we  desire  to  receive  from  God,   and  we  shall 
obtain  them ;  for  she  is  a  mother,  and  her  son  cannot 
refuse  to  hear  her  prayers,  or  to  grant  the  graces  which 
she  asks  from  him. 

Second  Point.     On  the  tender  compassion  of  Mary, 
and  her  readiness  to  assist  us  in  all  our  wants. 

7.  The  tenderness  of  Mary's  mercy  may  be  inferred 
from  the  fact  related  in  this  day's  Gospel.     The  wine 
fails — the  spouses  are  troubled — no  one  speaks  to  Mary 
to  ask  her  Son  to  console  them  in  their  necessity.     But 
the  tenderness  of  Mary's  heart,  which,  according  to  St. 
Bernardine  of  Sienna,  cannot  but   pity  the   afflicted, 
moved  her  to  take  the  office  of  advocate,  and,  without 
being   asked,   to   entreat  her  Son  to  work  a  miracle. 
"  Unasked,  she  assumed  the  office  of  an  advocate  and  a 
compassionate  helper."  (Tom.  3,  ser.  ix.)     Hence,  adds 
the  same  saint,  if,  unasked,  this  good  lady  has  done  so 
much,  what  will  she  not  do  for  those  who  invoke  her 
intercession  ?     "Si  hoc  non  rogata  perfccit,  quid  ro#ata 
perficiet  ?" 

8.  From  the  fact  already  related,   St.  Bonaventure 
draws  another  argument  to  show  the  great  graces  which 
we  may  hope  to  obtain  through  Mary,  now  that  she 
reigns  in   Heaven.      If  she  was  so  compassionate  on 
earth,  how  much  greater  must  be  her  mercy  now  that 


ON  RECOMMENDING  OURSELVES  TO  THE  B.  V.  MARY.      61 

she  is  in  Paradise  ?  "  Great  was  the  mercy  of  Mary 
while  in  exile  on  earth ;  but  it  is  much  greater  now  that 
she  is  a  queen  in  Heaven ;  because  she  now  sees  the 
misery  of  men."  (St.  Bona.  in  Spec.  Virg.,  cap.  viii.) 
Mary  in  Heaven  enjoys  the  vision  of  God  ;  and  there 
fore  she  sees  our  wants  far  more  clearly  than  when  she 
was  on  earth  ;  hence,  as  her  pity  for  us  is  increased,  so 
also  is  her  desire  to  assist  us  more  ardent.  How  truly 
has  Richard  of  St.  Yictor  said  to  the  Yirgin :  t(  So  tender 
is  thy  heart  that  thou  canst  not  see  misery  and  not  afford 
succour."  It  is  impossible  for  this  loving  mother  to 
behold  a  human  being  in  distress  without  extending  to 
him  pity  and  relief. 

9.  St.  Peter  Damian  says  that  the  Virgin  "  loves  us 
with  an  invincible  love."  (Ser,  i.  de  Nat.  Yirg.)  How 
ardently  soever  the  saints  may  have  loved  this  amiable 
queen,  their  affection  fell  far  short  of  the  love  which 
Mary  bore  to  them.  It  is  this  love  that  makes  her  so 
solicitous  for  our  welfare.  The  saints  in  Heaven,  says 
St.  Augustine,  have  great  power  to  obtain  grace  from 
God  for  those  who  recommend  themselves  to  their 
prayers ;  but  as  Mary  is  of  all  the  saints  the  most 
powerful,  so  she  is  of  all  the  most  desirous  to  procure 
for  us  the  divine  mercy :  "  Sicut  omnibus  sanctis  poten- 
tior,  sic  omnibus  est  pro  nobis  sollicitior." 

]  0.  And,  as  this  our  great  advocate  once  said  to  St. 
Bridget,  she  regards  not  the  iniquities  of  the  sinner  who 
has  recourse  to  her,  but  the  disposition  with  which  he 
invokes  her  aid.  If  he  comes  to  her  with  a  firm  purpose 
of  amendment  she  receives  him,  and  by  her  intercession 
heals  his  wounds,  and  brings  him  to  salvation.  "  How 
ever  great  a  man's  ,sins  may  be,  if  he  shall  return  to  me, 
I  am  ready  instantly  to  receive  him.  Nor  do  I  regard 
the  number  or  the  enormity  of  his  sins,  but  the  will  with 
which  he  comes  to  me ;  for  I  do  not  disdain  to  anoint 
and  heal  his  wounds,  because  I  am  called,  and  truly  am, 
the  mother  of  mercy." 

11.  The  blessed  Virgin  is  called  a  "  fair  olive  tree  in 
the  plains:"  "Quasi  oliva  speciosa  in  campis."  (Eccl. 
xxiv.  19.)  From  the  olive,  oil  only  comes  forth ;  and 
from  the  hands  of  Mary  only  graces  and  mercies  flow. 
According  to  Cardinal  Hugo,  it  is  said  that  she  remains 


G2  SERMON   VII. 


in  the  plains,  to  show  that  she  is  ready  to  assist  all  those 
who  have  recourse  to  her :  "  Speciosa  in  campis  ut 
omnes  ad  earn  confugiant."  In  the  Old  Law  there  were 
five  cities  of  refuge,  in  which  not  all,  but  only  those 
who  had  committed  certain  crimes,  could  find  an  asylum ; 
but  in  Mary,  says  St.  John  Damascene,  all  criminals, 
whatever  may  be  their  offences,  may  take  refuge.  Hence 
he  calls  her  "  the  city  of  refuge  for  all  who  have  recourse 
to  her."  Why,  then,  says  St.  Bernard,  should  we  be 
afraid  to  approach  Mary?  She  is  all  sweetness  and 
clemency ;  in  her  there  is  nothing  austere  or  terrible : 
"  Quid  ad  Mariam  accedere  trepidat  humana  fragilitas  ? 
Nihil  austerum  in  ea,  nihil  terribile,  tota  sauvis  est." 

12.  St.  Bonaventure  used  to  say  that,  in  turning  to 
Mary,  he  saw  mercy  itself  receiving  him.     "  When  I 
behold  thee,  O  my  lady,  I  see  nothing  but  mercy.''   The 
Virgin  said  one  day  to  St.  Bridget:  "  Miser  erit,  qui  ad 
misericordiam  cum  possit,  non  accedit."     Miserable  and 
miserable  for  eternity  shall  be  the  sinner  who,  though 
he  has  it  in  his  power  during  life  to  come  to  me,  who  am 
able  and  willing  to  assist  him,  neglects  to  invoke  my  aid, 
and  is  lost,     "  The  devil/'  says  St.  Peter,  "  as  a  roaring 
lion  goeth  about  seeing  whom  he  may  devour."  (1  Pet. 
v.  8.)      But,    according  to  Bernardine   a  Bustis,  this 
mother  of  mercy  is  constantly  going  about  in  search  of 
sinners  to   save  them.     "She  continually  goes  about 
seeking  whom  she  may  save."  (Maril.  par.  3,  ser.  iii.) 
This  queen  of  clemency,  says  Richard^  of  St.  Victor, 
presents  our  petitions,  and  begins  to  assist  us  before  we 
ask  the  assistance  of  her  prayers ;  "  Velocius  occurrit 
ejus  pietas  quam  invocetur,  et  causas  miserorum  antici- 
pat."  (In  Can.,  c.  xxiii.)     Because,  as  the  same  author 
says,  Mary's  heart  is  so  full  of  tenderness  towards  us, 
that  she  cannot  behold  our  miseries  without  affording 
relief.     "  Nee  possis  miserias  scire,  et  non  sub  venire." 

13.  Let  us,  then,  in  all  our  wants,  be  most  careful  to 
have  recourse  to  this  mother  of  mercy,  who  is  always 
ready  to  assist  those  who  invoke  her  aid.     "  Invenies 
semper  paratam  auxiliari,"  says  Richard  of  St.  Lawrence. 
She   is   always   prepared    to    come   to   our  help,   and 
frequently  prevents  our  supplications:  but,  ordinarily, 
she  requires  that  we  should  pray  to  her,  and  is  offended 


ON  RECOMMENDING  OURSELVES  TO  THE  B.  V.  MARY.     83 

when  we  neglect  to  ask  her  assistance.  "  In  te  domina 
peccant,"  says  St.  Bonaventure,  "  non  solum  qui  tibi 
injuriam  irrogant,  sed  etiam  qui  te  non  rogant."  (In 
Spec.  Yirg.)  Thou,  0  blessed  lady,  art  displeased  not 
only  with  those  who  commit  an  injury  against  thee, 
but  also  with  those  who  do  not  ask  favours  from  thee. 
Hence,  as  the  same  holy  doctor  teaches,  it  is  not  possible 
that  Mary  should  neglect  to  succour  any  soul  that  flies 
to  her  for  protection  ;  for  she  cannot  but  pity  and  con 
sole  the  afflicted  who  have  recourse  to  her.  "  Ipsa  enim 
non  misereri  ignorat  et  miseris  non  satisfacere." 

14.  But,  to  obtain  special   favours   from   this   good 
lady,  we  must  perform  in  her  honour  certain  devotions 
practised  by  her  servants  ;  such  as,  first,  to  recite  every 
day  at  least  five  decades  of  the  Rosary  ;  secondly,  to 
fast  every  Saturday  in  her  honour.     Many  persons  fast 
every  Saturday  on  bread  and  water  :  you  should  fast  in 
this  manner  at  least  on  the  vigils  of  her  seven  principal 
festivals.     Thirdly,  to  say  the  three  Aves  when  the  bell 
rings  for  the   Angelus  Domini;   and   to   salute   her 
frequently  during  the  day  with  an  Ave  Maria,  particu 
larly  when  you  hear  a  clock  strike,  or  when  you  see  an 
image  of  the  Yirgin,  and  also  when  you  leave  or  return 
to   your  house.     Fourthly,    to  say  every  evening  the 
Litany  of  the  Blessed  Yirgin  before  you  go  to  rest ;  and 
for  this  purpose  procure  an  image  of  Mary,  and  keep  it 
near  your  bed.     Fifthly,  to  wear  the  scapular  of  Mary 
in   sorrow,    and   of  Mount  Carmel.     There  are  many 
other  devotions  practised  by  the  servants  of  Mary  ;  but 
the  most  useful    of    all    is,    to    recommend    yourself 
frequently  to  her  prayers.     Never   omit  to  say  three 
Aves  in  the  morning,  to  beg  of  her  to  preserve  you  from 
sin  during  the  day.     In  all  temptations  have  immediate 
recourse  to  her,  saying:  ''Mary,  assist  me."     To  resist 
every  temptation,  it  is  sufficient  to  pronounce  the  names 
of  Jesus  and  Mary  ;  and  if  the  temptation  continues,  let 
us  continue  to  invoke  Jesus  and  Mary,  and  the  devil 
shall  never  be  able  to  conquer  us. 

15.  St.  Bonaventure  calls  Mary  the  salvation  of  those 
who  invoke  her :  "  0  salus  te  invocantium."     And  if  a 
true  servant  of  Mary  were  lost  (I  mean  one  truly  devoted 
to  her,  who  wishes  to  amend  his  life,  and  invoke  with 


SERMON    VIII. 


confidence  this  advocate  of  sinners),  this  should  happen 
either  because  Mary  would  be  unable  or  unwilling  to 
assist  him.  But,  says  St.  Bernard,  this  is  impossible : 
being  the  mother  of  omnipotence  and  of  mercy,  Mary 
cannot  want  the  power  or  the  will  to  save  her  servants. 
Justly  then  is  she  called  the  salvation  of  all  who  invoke 
her  aid.  Of  this  truth  there  are  numberless  examples  : 
that  of  St.  Mary  of  'Egypt  will  be  sufficient.  After 
leading  for  many  years  a  sinful  and  dissolute  life,  she 
wished  to  enter  the  church  of  Jerusalem  in  which  the 
festival  of  the  holy  cross  was  celebrated.  To  make  her 
feel  her  miseries,  God  closed  against  her  the  door  which 
was  open  to  all  others:  as  often  as  she  endeavoured  to 
enter,  an  invisible  force  drove  her  back.  She  instantly 
perceived  her  miserable  condition,  and  remained  in 
sorrow  outside  the  church.  Fortunately  for  her  there 
was  an  image  of  most  holy  Mary  over  the  porch  of  the 
church.  As  a  poor  sinner  she  recommended  herself  to 
the  divine  mother,  and  promised  to  change  her  life. 
After  her  prayer,  she  felt  encouraged  to  go  into  the 
church,  and,  behold !  the  door  which  was  before  closed 
against  her  she  now  finds  open:  she  enters,  and  con 
fesses  her  sins.^  She  leaves  the  church,  and,  under  the 
influence  of  divine  inspiration,  goes  into  the  desert, 
where  she  lived  for  forty-seven  years,  and  became  a 
saint. 


SERMON  YIIL— THIRD  SUNDAY  AFTER  THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On  the  remorse  of  the  damned. 

"  But  the  children  of  the  kingdom  shall  be  cast  out  into  the  exterior 
darkness  ;  there  shall  be  weeping  and  gnashing  of  teeth." — MATT. 
viii.  12. 

IN  the  Gospel  of  this  day  it  is  related  that, tl  when  Jesus 
Christ  entered  into  Capharnaum,  there  came  to  him  a 
centurion  beseeching  him"  to  cure  his  servant,  who  lay 
sick  of  the  palsy.  Jesus  answered  :  "I  will  come  and 


REMORSE    OF   THE    DAMNED.  65 

teal  him."  « No,"  replied  the  centurion,  "  I  am  not 
worthy  that  thou  shouldst  enter  under  my  roof;  but 
only  say  the  word,  and  my  servant  shall  be  healed." 
(v.  8.)  Seeing  the  centurion's  faith,  the  Redeemer  in 
stantly  consoled  him  by  restoring  health  to  his  servant ; 
and,  turning  to  his  disciples,  he  said  :  "  Many  shall  come 
from  the  east  and  the  west,  and  shall  sit  down  with 
Abraham  and  Isaac  and  Jacob  in  the  kingdom  of 
Heaven.  But  the  children  of  the  kingdom  shall  be 
cast  out  into  the  exterior  darkness  ;  there  shall  be 
weeping  and  gnashing  of  teeth."  By  these  words  our 
Lord  wished  to  signify,  that  many  persons  born  in 
infidelity  shall  be  saved,  and  enjoy  the  society  of  the 
saints,  and  that  many  who  are  born  in  the  bosom  of  the 
Church  shall  be  cast  into  Hell,  where  the  worm  of  con 
science,  by  its  gnawing,  shall  make  them  weep  bitterly 
for  all  eternity. 

Let  us  examine  the  remorses  of  conscience  which,  a 
damned  Christian  shall  suffer  in  Hell.  First  remorse, 
arising  from  the  thought  of  the  little  which  he  required 
to  do  in  order  to  save  his  soul.  Second  remorse,  arisin^ 
from  the  remembrance  of  the  trifles  for  which  he  lost  his 
soul.  Third  remorse,  arising  from  the  knowledge  of  the 
great  good  which  he  has  lost  through  his  own  fault. 

First  remorse  of  the  damned  Christian,  arising  from 
the  thought  of  the  little  which  he  required  to  do  in  order 
to  save  his  soul. 

1 .  A  damned  soul  once  appeared  to  St.  Hubert,  and 
said,  that  two  remorses  were  her  most  cruel  executioners 
in  Hell :  the  thought  of  the  little  which  was  necessary 
for  her  to  have  done  in  this  life  to  secure  her  salvation ; 
and  the  thought  of  the  trifles  for  which  she  brought 
herself  to  eternal  misery.  The  same  thing  has  been 
said  by  St.  Thomas.  _  Speaking  of  the  reprobate,  he 
says  :  "  They  shall  be  in  sorrow  principally  because  they 
are  damned  for  nothing,  and  because  they  could  most 
easily  have  obtained  eternal  life."  Let  us  stop  to  con 
sider  this  first  source  of  remorse;  that  is,  how  few  and 
transitory  are  the  pleasures  for  which  all  the  damned 
are  lost.  Each  of  the  reprobate  will  say  for  eternity  : 
If  I  abstained  from  such  a  gratification ;  if  in  certain 


E 


66 


SERMON    VIII. 


circumstances  I  overcame  human  respect ;  if  I  avoided 
such  an  occasion  of  sin — such  a  companion,  I  should 
not  now  he  damned;  if  I  had  frequented  some  pious 
sodality  ;  if  I  had  gone  to  confession  every  week  ;  if  in 
temptations  I  had  recommended  myself  to  God,  I  would 
not  have  relapsed  into  sin.  I  have  so  often  proposed  to 
do  these  things,  but  I  have  not  done  them.  I  began  to 
practise  these  means  of  salvation,  but  afterwards  gave 
them  up  ;  and  thus  I  am  lost. 

2.  This  torment  of  the  damned  will  be  increased  by 
the  remembrance  of  the  good  example  given  them  by 
some  young  companions  who  led  a  chaste  and  pious  life 
even  in  the  midst  of  the  world.     It  will  be  still  more 
increased  by  the  recollection  of  all  the  gifts  which  the 
Lord  had  bestowed  upon  them,  that  by  their  co-opera 
tion  they  might  acquire  eternal  salvation ;  the  gifts  of 
nature — health,  riches,  respectability  of  family,  talents ; 
all  gifts  granted  by  God,  not  to  be  employed  in  the 
indulgence   of   pleasures   and   in   the    gratification   of 
vanity,  but  in  the  sanctification  of  their  souls,  and  in 
becoming   saints.      So  many  gifts  of  grace,  so   many 
divine   lights,    holy   inspirations,  loving   calls,  and  so 
many  years  of  life  to  repair  past  disorders.     But  they 
shall  for  ever  hear  from  the  angel  of  the  Lord  that  for 
them  the  time  of  salvation  is  past.     "  The  angel  whom 
I  saw  standing,  swore  by  Him  that  liveth  for  ever  and 
ever.      .  .  .  that  time  shall  be  no  longer."  (Apoc.  x.  6.) 

3.  Alas !  what  cruel  swords  shall  all  these  blessings 
received  from  God  be  to  the  heart  of  a  poor  damned 
Christian,  when  he  shall  see  himself  shut  up  in  the 
prison  of  Hell,  and  that  there  is  no  more  time  to  repair 
his  eternal  ruin  !    In  despair  he  will  say  to  his  wretched 
companions  :    "  The  harvest  is   past  ;    the   summer   is 
ended ;  and  we  are  not  saved."    (Jer.  viii.  20.)     The 
time,  he  will  say,  of  gathering  fruits  of  eternal  life  is 
past ;  the  summer,  during  which  we  could  have  saved 
our  souls,  is  over,  but  we  are  not  saved  :  the  winter  is 
come  ;  but  it  is  an  eternal  winter,  in  which  we  must  live 
in  misery  and  despair  as  long  as  God  shall  be  God. 

4.  0  fool,  he  will  say,  that  I  have  been !     If  I  had 
suffered  for  God  the  pains  to  which  I  have  submitted 
for  the  indulgence  of  my  passions — if  the  labours  which 


REMORSE    OF    THE    DAMNED.  67 

I  have  endured  for  my  own  damnation,  had  been  borne 
for  my  salvation,  how  happy  should  I  now  be  !  And 
what  now  remains  of  all  past  pleasures,  but  remorse  and 
pain,  which  now  torture,  and  shall  torture  me  for  eter 
nity  ?  Finally,  he  will  say,  I  might  be  for  ever  happy 
and  now  .[  must  be  for  ever  miserable.  Ah!  this 
thought  will  torture  the  damned  more  than  the  fire  and 
all  the  other  torments  of  Hell. 

Second  remorse  of  the  damned,  arising  from  the  re 
membrance  of  the  trifles  for  which  they  lost  their  souls. 
>  Saul  forbid  the  people,  under  pain  of  death,  to 
taste  food.  His  son  Jonathan,  who  was  then  young 
being  hungry,  tasted  a  little  honey.  Having  dis 
covered  that  Jonathan  had  violated  the  command,  the 
king  declared  that  he  should  die.  Seeing  himself  con 
demned  to  death,  Jonathan  said  with  tears  :  "  I  did  but 

taste  a  little  honey, and  behold  I  must  die."   (1 

Kings  xiv.  43.)  But  the  people,  moved  to  pity  for 
Jonathan,  interposed  with  his  father,  and  delivered  him 
from  death.  For  the  unhappy  damned  there  is  no  com 
passion  ;  there  is  no  one  to  intercede  with  God  to  deliver 
them  from  the  eternal  death  of  Hell.  On  the  contrary, 
all  rejoice  at  the  just  punishment  which  they  suffer  for 
having  wilfully  lost  God  and  Paradise  for  the  sake  of  a 
transitory  pleasure. 

6.  After  having  eaten  the   pottage   of  lentiles   for 
which  he  sold  his  right  of  primogeniture,  Esau  was 
tortured  with  grief  and  remorse  for  what  he  had  lost, 
and  "roared  out  with  a  great  cry."  (Gen.  xxvii.  34.) 
Oh !  how  great  shall  be  the  roaring  and  howling  of  the 
damned,  at  the  thought  of  having  lost,  for  a  few  poison 
ous  and  momentary  pleasures,  the  everlasting  kingdom 
of  Paradise,  and  of  being  condemned  for  eternity  to  a 
continual  death  ! 

7.  The  unfortunate   reprobate    shall   be   continually 
employed  in  reflecting  on  the  unhappy  cause  of  their 
damnation.      To  us  who  live  on  earth   our  past  life 
appears  but  a  moment—but  a  dream.     Alas !  what  will 
the  fifty  or  sixty  years  which  they  may  have  spent  in 
this  world  appear  to  the  damned,  when  they  shall  find 
themselves  in  the  abyss  of  eternity,  and  when  they  shall 


G8  SERMON   VIII. 

have  passed  a  hundred  and  a  thousand  millions  of  years 
in  torments,  and  shall  see  that  their  miserable  eternity 
is  only  beginning,  and  shall  be  for  ever  in  its  commence 
ment  ?  liut  have  the  fifty  years  spent  on  this  ^  earth 
been  full  of  pleasures  ?  Perhaps  the  sinner,  living  in 
enmity  with  God,  enjoyed  uninterrupted  happiness  in 
his  sins?  How  long  do  the  pleasures  of  sin  last? 
Only  for  a  few  minutes ;  the  remaining  part  of  the  lives 
of  those  who  live  at  a  distance  from  God  is  full  of  anguish 
and  pain.  Oh !  what  will  these  moments  of  pleasure 
appear  to  a  damned  soul,  when  she  shall  find  herself  in 
a  pit  of  fire  ? 

8.  "  What  hath  pride  profited  us  ?  or  what  advantage 
hath  the  boasting  of  riches  brought  us  ?     All  those  things 
have  passed  away  like  a  shadow."  (Wis.  v.  8.)     Un 
happy  me !  each  of  the  damned  shall  say,  I  have  lived 
on  earth  according  to  my  corrupt  inclinations  ;  I  have 
indulged  my  pleasures  ;  but  what  have  they  profited  me  ? 
They  have  lasted  but  for  a  short  time  ;  they  have  made 
me  lead  a  life  of  bitterness  and  disquietude ;  and  now 
I  must  burn  in  this  furnace  for  ever,  in  despair,  and 
abandoned  by  all. 

Third  remorse  of  the  damned,  arising  from  the  know 
ledge  of  the  great  good  which  they  have  lost  by  their 
own  fault. 

9.  A  certain  queen,  blinded  by  the  ambition  of  being 
a  sovereign,  said  one  day  :  "  If  the  Lord  gives  me  a  reign 
of  forty  years,  I  shall  renounce  Paradise."     The  unhappy 
queen  reigned  for  forty  years  ;  but  now  that  she  is  in 
another  world,  she   cannot  but  be  grieved  at  having 
made  such  a  renunciation.     Oh !  how  great  must  be  her 
anguish  at  the  thought  of  having  lost  the  kingdom  of 
Paradise  for  the  sake  of  a  reign  of  forty  years,  full  of 
troubles,  of  crosses,  and  of  fears  !     "  Plus  ccelo  torque- 
tor,  quam   gehenna,"  says  St.  Peter  Chrysologus.     To 
the  damned  the  voluntary  loss  of  Paradise  is  a  greater 
loss  than  the  very  pains  of  Hell. 

10.  The  greatest  pain  in  Hell  is  the  loss  of  God,  that 
sovereign  good,  who  is  the  source  of  all  the  joys  of 
Paradise.  "  Let  torments,"  says  St.  Bruno,  "  be  added 
to  torments,  and  let  them  not  be  deprived  of  God." 


REMORSE    OF    THE    DAMNKD.  (]9 

(Serai,  de  Jud.  fin.)  The  damned  would  be  content  to 
have  a  thousand  Hells  added  to  the  Hell  which  they 
suffer  provided  they  were  not  deprived  of  God;  but 
their  Hell  shall  consist  in  seeing  themselves  deprived 
lor  ever  of  God  through  their  own  fault.  St.  Teresa 
used  to  say,  that  when  a  person  loses,  through  his  own 
iault,  a  trifle — a  small  sum  of  money,  or  a  ring  of  little 
value— the  thought  of  having  lost  it  through*  his  own 
neglect  afflicts  him  and  disturbs  his  peace.  What  then 
must  be  the  anguish  of  the  damned  in  reflecting  that 
they  have  lost  God,  a  good  of  infinite  value,  and  have 
lost  him  through  their  own  fault  ? 

11.  The  damned  shall  see  that  God  wished  them  to 
be  saved,  and  had  given  them  the  choice  of  eternal  life 
or  of  eternal  death.  "Before  man  is  life  and  death, 
that  which  he  shall  choose  shall  be  given  to  him."  (Eccles." 
xv.  18.)  They  shall  see  that,  if  they  wished,  they  might 
have  acquired  eternal  happiness,  and  that,  by  their  own 
choice,  they  are  damned.  On  the  day  of  judgment 
they  shall  see  many  of  their  companions  among  the 
elect ;  but,  because  they  would  not  put  a  stop  to  their 
career  of  sin,  they  have  gone  to  end  it  in  Hell.  *  "  There 
fore  we  have  erred,"  they  shall  say  to  their  unhappy 
associates  in  Hell ;  we  have  erred  in  losing  Heaven  and 
God  through  our  own  fault,  and  our  error  is  irreparable. 
They  shall  continually  exclaim  :  "  There  is  no  peace  for 
my  bones  because  of  my  sins."  (Ps.  xxxvii.  4.)  The 
thought  of  having  been  the  cause  of  their  own  damna 
tion  produces  an  internal  pain,  which  enters  into  the 
very  bones  of  the  damned,  and  prevents  them  from  ever 
enjoying  a  moment's  repose.  Hence,  each  of  them  shall 
be  to  himself  an  object  of  the  greatest  horror.  Each 
shall  suffer  the  pain  threatened  by  the  Lord :  "  I  will 
set  THEE  before  thy  face."  (Ps.  xlix.  21.) 

12.  If,  beloved  brethren,  you  have  hitherto  been  so 
foolish  as  to  lose  God  for  a  miserable  pleasure,  do  not 
persevere  in  your  folly.  Endeavour,  now  that  you  have 
it  in  your  power,  to  repair  your  past  error.  Tremble ! 
Perhaps,  if  you  do  not  now  resolve  to  change  your 
life,  you  shall  be  abandoned  by  God,  and  be  lost  for  ever. 
When  the  Devil  tempts  you,  remember  Hell — the 
thought  of  Hell  will  preserve  you  from  that  land  of 


70  SERMON    IX. 

misery.  I  say,  remember  Hell  and  have  recourse  to 
Jesus  Christ  and  to  most  holy  Mary,  and  they  will 
deliver  you  from  sin,  which  is  the  gate  of  Hell. 


SERMON  IX.— FOURTH  SUNDAY  AFTER  THE 
EPIPHANY. 

Dangers  to  eternal  salvation. 

"  And  when  he  entered  into  the  boat,  his  disciples  followed  him  ;  and, 
behold,  a  great  tempest  arose  in  the  sea." — MATT.  viii.  23,  24. 

On  the  greatness  of  the  dangers  to  which  our  eternal  sal 
vation  is  exposed,  and  on  the  manner  in  which  we  ought 
to  guard  against  them. 

1.  IN  this  day's  Gospel  we  find  that,  when  Jesus  Christ 
entered  the  boat  along  with  his  disciples,  a  great  tem 
pest  arose,  so  that  the  boat  was  agitated  by  the  waves, 
and  was  on  the  point  of  being  lost.  During  this  storm 
the  Saviour  was  asleep ;  but  the  disciples,  terrified  by 
the  storm,  ran  to  awake  him,  and  said  :  "  Lord,  save  us  : 
we  perish."  (v.  25.)  Jesus  gave  them  courage  by  saying : 
"  Why  are  ye  fearful,  0  ye  of  little  faith  ?  Then  rising 
up,  he  commanded  the  winds  and  the  sea,  and  there 
came  a  great  calm."  Let  us  examine  what  is  meant  by 
the  boat  in  the  midst  of  the  sea,  and  by  the  tempest 
which  agitated  the  sea. 

2.  The  boat  on  the  sea  represents  man  in  this  world. 
As  a  vessel  on  the  sea  is  exposed  to  a  thousand  dangers 
— to  pirates,  to  quicksands,  to  hidden  rocks,  and  to  tem 
pests  ;  so  man  in  this  life  is  encompassed  with  perils 
arising  from  the  temptations  of  Hell — from  the  occa 
sions  of  sin,  from  the  scandals  or  bad  counsels  of  men, 
from  human  respect,  and,  above  all,  from  the  bad  pas 
sions  of  corrupt  nature,  represented  by  the  winds  that 
agitate  the  sea  and  expose  the  vessel  to  great  danger  of 
being  lost. 

'6.  Thus,  as  St.  Leo  says,  our  life  is  full  of  dangers, 
of  snares,  and  of  enemies:  u  Plena  omnia  periculis, 
plena  laqueis:  incitant  cupiditates,  insidiantur  illecebra3 ; 
blandiuntur  lucra."  (S.  Leo,  serm.  v,  de  Quad.)  The 


DANGERS    TO    ETERNAL    SALVATION.  71 

first  enemy  of  the  salvation  of  every  Christian  is  his  own 
corruption.     "But  every  man  is  tempted  by  his  own 
concupiscence,  being  drawn  away  and   allured."    (St. 
James  i.  14.)     Along  with  the  corrupt  inclinations  which 
live  within  us,  and  drag  us  to  evil,  we  have  many  enemies 
from  without  that  fight  against  us.   We  have  the  devils, 
with  whom  the  contest  is  very  difficult,  because  they 
are  stronger  than  we  are."     "  Bellum  grave/'  says  Cas- 
siodorus,   "  qui  cum  fortiore."    (In  Psal.  v.)      Hence, 
because  we  have  to  contend  with  powerful  enemies,  St. 
Paul  exhorts  us  to  arm  ourselves  with  the  divine  aid: 
"  Put  you  on  the  armour  of  God,  that  you  may  be  able 
to  stand  against  the  deceits  of  the  Devil.      For  our 
wrestling  is  not  against  flesh  and  blood,  but  against 
principalities  and  powers,  against  the  rulers  of  the  world 
of  this  darkness,  against  the  spirits  of  wickedness  in 
high  places."  (Eph.  vi.  11, 12.)     The  Devil,  according  to 
St.   Peter,   is   a   lion  who   is   continually  going    about 
roaring,  through  the  rage  and  hunger  which  impel  him 
to  devour  our  souls.     "  Your  adversary,  the  Devil,  like 
a   roaring   lion,   goeth   about   seeking   whom   he   may 
devour."  (1  Peter,  v.  8,)     St.  Cyprian  says  that  Satan 
is  continually  lying  in  wait  for  us,  in  order  to  make  us 
his  slaves :  "  Circuit  demon  nos  singulos,  et  tanquam  hos- 
tis  clauses  obsidens  muros  explorat  et  tenat  num  sit  pars 
aliqua  minis  stabilis,  cujus  auditu  ad  interiora  penetre- 
tur."  (S.  Cyp.  lib.  de  zelo,  etc.) 

4.  Even  the  men   with   whom  we  must   converse 
endanger  our  salvation.     They  persecute  or  betray  us, 
or  deceive  us  by  their  flattery  and  bad  counsels.     St. 
Augustine  says  that,  among  the  faithful  there  are  in 
every  profession   hollow  and   deceitful   men.     "Omnis 
professio  in  ecclesia  habet  fictos."  (In  Ps.  xciv.)     Now 
if  a  fortress  were  full  of  rebels  within,  and  encompassed 
by  enemies  from  without,  who  is  there  that  would  not 
regard  it  as  lost  ?     Such  is  the  condition  of  each  of  us 
as  long  as  we  live  in  this  world.     Who  shall  be  able  to 
deliver  us  from  so  many  powerful  enemies  ?     Only  God : 
"  Unless  the  Lord  keep  the  city,  he  watcheth  in  vain 
that  keepeth  it."  (Ps.  cxxvi.  2.) 

5.  What  then  is  the  means  by  which  we  can  save  our 
souls  in  the  midst  of  so  many  dangers?    It  is  to  imitate 


72  SERMON   IX. 


the  holy  disciples — to  have  recourse  to  our  Divine 
Master,  and  say  to  him  :  "  Save  us  ;  we  perish."  Save 
us,  0  Lord ;  if  thou  do  not  we  are  lost.  When  the 
tempest  is  violent,  the  pilot  never  takes  his  eyes  from 
the  light  which  guides  him  to  the  port.  In  like  mannei 
we  should  keep  our  eyes  always  turned  to  God,  whc 
alone  can  deliver  us  from  the  many  dangers  to  which  we 
are  exposed.  It  was  thus  David  acted  when  he  found 
himself  assailed  hy  the  dangers  of  sin.  "  I  have  lifted 
up  my  eyes  to  the  mountains,  from  whence  help  shall 
come  to  me."  (Ps.  cxx.  1.)  To  teach  us  to  recommend 
ourselves  continually  to  him  who  alone  can  save  us  by 
his  grace,  the  Lord  has  ordained  that,  as  long  as  we 
remain  on  this  earth,  we  should  live  in  the  midst  of  a 
continual  tempest,  and  should  be  surrounded  by  enemies. 
The  temptations  of  the  Devil,  the  persecutions  of  men, 
the  adversity  which  we  suffer  in  this  world,  are  not  evils : 
they  are,  on  the  contrary,  advantages,  if  we  know  how 
to  make  of  them  the  use  which  God  wishes,  who  sends 
or  permits  them  for  our  welfare.  They  detach  our 
affections  from  this  earth,  and  inspire  a  disgust  for  this 
world,  by  making  us  feel  bitterness  and  thorns  even  in 
its  honours,  its  riches,  its  delights,  and  amusements. 
The  Lord  permits  all  these  apparent  evils,  that  we  may 
take  away  our  affections  from  fading  goods,  in  which 
we  meet  with  so  many  dangers  of  perdition,  and  that  we 
may  seek  to  unite  ourselves  with  him  who  alone  can 
make  us  happy. 

6.  Our  error  and  mistake  is,  that  when  we  find  our 
selves  harassed  by  infirmities,  by  poverty,  by  persecu 
tions,  and  by  such  tribulations,  instead  of  having  recourse 
to  the  Lord,  we  turn  to  men,  and  place  our  confidence 
in  their  assistance,  and  thus  draw  upon  ourselves  the 
malediction  of  God,  who  says,  "  Cursed  be  the  man  who 
trusteth  in  man."  (Jer.  xvii.   5.)     The  Lord  does  not 
forbid  us,  in  our  afnictions  and  dangers,  to  have  recourse 
to  human  means ;    but  he  curses  those  who  place  their 
whole  trust  in  them.     He  wishes  us  to  have  recourse  to 
himself  before  all  others,  and  to  place  our  only  hope  in 
him,  that  we  may  also  centre  in  him  all  our  love. 

7.  As  long  as  we  live  on  this  earth,  we  must,  accord 
ing  to  St.  Paul,  work  out  our  salvation  with  fear  and 


DANGERS   TO    ETERNAL    SALTATION. 


trembling,  in  the  midst  of  the  dangers  by  which  we  are 
beset.  "  Cum  metu  et  tremore  vestram  salutem  opera- 
mini."  (Phil.  ii.  12.)  Whilst  a  certain  vessel  was  in  the 
open  sea  a  great  tempest  arose,  which  made  the  captain 
tremble.  ^  In  the  hold  of  the  vessel  there  was  an  animal 
eating  with  as  much  tranquillity  as  if  the  sea  were  per 
fectly  calm.  The  captain  being  asked  why  he  was  so 
much  afraid,  replied:  If  I  had  a  soul  like  the  soul  of 
this  brute,  I  too  would  be  tranquil  and  without  fear ;  but 
because  I  have  a  rational  and  an  immortal  soul,  I  am 
afraid  of  death,  after  which  I  must  appear  before  the 
judgment-seat  of  God  ;  and  therefore  I  tremble  through 
fear.  Let  us  also  tremble,  beloved  brethren.  The  salva 
tion  of  our  immortal  souls  is  at  stake.  They  who  do  not 
tremble  are,  as  St.  Paul  says,  in  great  danger  of  being 
lost;  because  they  who  fear  not,  seldom  recommend 
themselves  to  God,  and  labour  but  little  to  adopt  the 
means  of  salvation.  Let  us  beware:  we  are,  says  St. 
Cyprian,  still  in  battle  array,  and  still  combat  for  eternal 
salvation.  "Adhuc  in  acie  constituti  de  vita  nostra 
dimicamus."  (S.  Cypr.,  lib.  1,  cap.  i.) 

8.  The  first  means  of  salvation,  then,  is  to  recom 
mend  ourselves  continually  to  God,  that  he  may  keep 
his  hands  over  us,  and  preserve  us  from  offending  him. 
The  ^  next  is,  to  cleanse  the  soul  from  all  past  sins  by 
making  a  general  confession.     A  general  confession  is 
a  powerful  help  to  a  change  of  life.     When  the  tempest 
is  violent  the  burden  of  the  vessel  is  diminished,  and 
each  person  on  board  throws  his  goods  into  the  sea  in 
order  to  save  his  life.     0  folly  of  sinners,  who,  in  the 
midst  of  such  great  dangers  of  eternal  perdition,  instead 
of  diminishing  the  burden  of  the  vessel — that  is,  instead 
of  unburdening  the  soul  of  her  sins — load  her  with  a 
greater  weight.     Instead  of  flying  from  the  dangers  of 
sm,  they  fearlessly  continue  to  put  themselves  voluntarily 
into  dangerous  occasions;  and,  instead  of  having  re 
course  to  God's  mercy  for  the  pardon  of  their  offences, 
they  offend  him  still  more,  and  compel  him  to  abandon, 
them. 

9.  Another  means  is,   to  labour  strenuously  not  to 
allow  ourselves  to  become  the  slaves  of  irregular  pas 
sions.     "  Give  me  not  over  to  a  shameless  and  foolish 


SERMON   IX. 


mind."  (Eccl.  xxiii.  6.)  Do  not,  0  Lord,  deliver  me  up 
to  a  mind  blinded  by  passion.  He  who  is  blind  sees  not 
what  he  is  doing,  and  therefore  he  is  in  danger  of  falling 
into  every  crime.  Thus  so  many  are  lost  by  submitting 
to  the  tyranny  of  their  passions.  Some  are  slaves  to  the 
passion  of  avarice.  A  person  who  is  now  in  the  other 
world  said :  Alas !  I  perceive  that  a  desire  of  riches  is 
beginning  to  rule  over  me.  So  said  the  unhappy  man  ; 
but  he  applied  no  rerne'dy.  He  did  not  resist  the  passion 
in  the  beginning,  but  fomented  it  till  death,  and  thus  at 
his  last  moments  left  but  little  reason  to  hope  for  his 
salvation.  Others  are  slaves  to  sensual  pleasures.  They 
are  not  content  with  lawful  gratifications,  and  therefore 
they  pass  to  the  indulgence  of  those  that  are  forbidden. 
Others  are  subject  to  anger ;  and  because  they  are  not 
careful  to  check  the  fire  at  its  commencement,  when  it 
is  small,  it  increases  and  grows  into  a  spirit  of  revenge. 

10.  "  Hi  hostes  cavendi,"  says  St.  Ambrose,  "  hi  gra- 
viores  tyranni.     Multi  in  persecutione  publica  coronati, 
in  hac  persecutione  ceciderunt."  (In  Ps.  cxviii.  serm.  20.) 
Disorderly  affections,  if  they  are  not  beaten  down  in  the 
beginning,  become  our  greatest  tyrants.     Many,  says  St. 
Ambrose,  after  having  victoriously  resisted  the  persecu 
tions  of  the  enemies  of  the  faith,  were  afterwards  lost 
because  they  did  not  resist  the  first  assaults  of  some 
earthly   passion.      Of    this,    Origen    was    a  miserable 
example.     He  fought  for,  and  was  prepared  to  give  his 
life  in  defence  of  the  faith  ;  but,  by  afterwards  yielding 
to  human  respect,  he  was  led  to  deny  it.  (Natalis  Alex 
ander,  His.  Eccl.,  torn.  7,  dis.  xv.,  q.  2,  a.  1.)    We  have 
still  a  more  miserable  example  in  Solomon,  who,  after 
having  received  so  many  gifts  from  God,  and  after  being 
inspired  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  was,  by  indulging  a  passion 
for  certain  pagan,  women,  induced  to  offer  incense  to  idols. 
The  unhappy  man  who  submits  to  the  slavery  of  his 
wicked  passions,  resembles  the  ox  that  is  sent  to  the 
slaughter  after  a  life  of  constant  labour.     During  their 
whole  lives  worldlings  groan  under  the  weight  of  their 
sins,  and,  at  the  end  of  their  days,  fall  into  Hell. 

11.  Let  us  conclude.     When  the  winds  are  strong 
and  violent,  the  pilot  lowers  the  sails  and  casts  anchor. 
So,  when  we  find  ourselves  assailed  by  any  bad  passion, 


DANGERS    TO    ETERNAL    SALVATION.  75 

we  .should  always  lower  the  sails ;  that  is,  we  should 
avoid  all  the  occasions  which  may  increase  the  passion 
and  should  cast  anchor  by  uniting  ourselves  to  God,  and 
by  begging  of  him  to  give  us  strength  not  to  offend  him 
12.  But  some  of  you  will  say,  What  am  I  to  do  ?     I 
live  in  the  midst  of  the  world,  where  my  passions  con 
tinually  assail  me  even  against  my  will.     I  will  answer 
in  the  words  of  Origen  :  '<  Donee  quis  in  tenebris  scecu- 
lanbus  manet  et  in  negotiorum  obscuritate  versatur,  nou 
potest  servire  Domino.     Exeundum  est  ergo  de  Egypto, 
relmquendus  est  mundus,  non  loco  sed  ammo."   (Horn. 
111.  in  Exod.)     The  man  who  lives  in  the  darkness  of  the 
world  and  in  the  midst  of  secular  business,  can  with 
difficulty  serve  God.     Whoever  then  wishes  to  insure 
his  eternal  salvation,  let  him  retire  from  the  world,  and 
take  refuge  in  one  of  those  exact  religious  communities 
which  are  the  secure  harbours  in  the  sea  of  this  world. 
11  he  cannot  actually  leave  the  world,  let  him  leave  it  at 
least  in  affection,  by  detaching  his  heart  from  the  things 
ol  this  world,  and  from  his  own  evil  inclinations  :  "  Go 
not  after  thy  lusts,"  says  the  Holy  Ghost,  "  but  turn 
away  from  thy  own  will."  (Eccl.  xviii.  30.)     Follow  not 
your  own  concupiscence;  and  when  your  will  impels 
you  to  evil,  you  must  not  indulge,  but  must  resist  its 
inclinations. 

13.  "  The  time  is  short :  it  remaineth  that  they  also 
who  have  wives  be  as  if  they  had  none  ;  and  they  that 
weep,  as  though  they  wept  not ;  and  they  that  rejoice, 
as  it  they  rejoiced  not ;  and  they  that  buy,  as  if  they 
possessed  not ;  and  they  that  use  this  world,  as  if  they 
used  it  not ;  for  the  fashion  of  this  world  passeth  away  " 
1  Cor.  vii.  29,  etc.)  The  time  of  life  is  short ;  we  should 
then  prepare  for  death,  which  is  rapidly  approaching ; 
and  to  prepare  for  that  awful  moment,  let  us  reflect  that 
everything  m  this  world  shall  soon  end.  Hence,  the 

£?S  ?  tells  those  wto  suffer  in  tnis  life  to  be  as  if  they 
Buttered  not,  because  the  miseries  of  this  life  shall  soon 
pass  away,  and  they  who  save  their  souls  shall  be  happy 
for  eternity;  and  he  exhorts  those  who  enjoy  the  goods 
of  this  earth  to  be  as  if  they  enjoyed  them  not,  because 
they  must  one  day  leave  all  things;  and  if  they  lose 
their  souls,  they  shall  be  miserable  for  ever. 


SERMON   X. 


SERMON  X.— FIFTH  SUNDAY  AFTER  THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On  the  pains  of  Hell. 

"  Gather  up  first  the  coclde,   and  bind  into  bundles  to  burn."— 
MATT.  xiii.  30. 

I  shall  first  speak  of  the  fire,  which  is  the  principal  pain 
that  torments  the  senses  of  the  damned,  and  afterwards 
of  the  other  2)ains  of  hell. 

1.  BEHOLD!  the  final  doom  of  sinners  who  abuse  the 
divine  mercy  is,  to  burn  in  the  fire  of  hell.  God 
threatens  hell,  not  to  send  us  there,  but  to  deliver  us 
from  that  place  of  torments.  "  Minatur  Deus  gehennem,1' 
says  St.  Chrysostom,  "  ut  a  gehenna  liberet,  et  ut  firmi 
ac  stabiles  evitemus  minas."  (Horn.  v.  de  Poenit.) 
Remember,  then,  brethren,  that  God  gives  you  to-day 
the  opportunity  of  hearing  this  sermon,  that  you  may  be 
preserved  from  hell,  and  that  you  may  give  up  sin, 
which  alone  can  lead  you  to  hell. 

2.  My  brethren,  it  is  certain  and  of  faith  that  there 
is   a  hell.     After  judgment   the  just  shall  enjoy  the 
eternal   glory   of  Paradise,   and  sinners  shall  be  con 
demned  to  suffer  the  everlasting  chastisement  reserved 
for  them  in  hell.     "And  these  shall  go  into  everlasting 
punishment,  but  the  just  into  life  everlasting."  (Matt. 
xxv.  46.)     Let  us  examine  in  what  hell  consists.     It  is 
what  the  rich  glutton  called  it — a  place  of  torments. 
"  In  hunc  locum  tormentorum."  (Luc.  xvi.  28.)     It  is  a 
place  of  suffering,  where  each  of  the  senses  and  powers 
of  the  damned  has  its  proper  torment,  and  in  which  the 
torments  of  each  person  will  be  increased  in  proportion 
to  the  forbidden  pleasures  in  which  he  indulged.     "  As 
much  as  she  hath  glorified  herself  and  lived  in  delicacies, 
so  much  torment  and  sorrow  give  ye  to  her."  (Apoc. 
xviii.  7.) 

3.  In  offending  God  the  sinner  does  two  evils:  he 
abandons  God,  the  sovereign  good,  who  is  able  to  make 
him  happy,  and  turns  to  creatures,  who  are  incapable 


PAINS    OF    HELL.  77 


of  giving  any  real  happiness  to  the  soul.  Of  this  injury 
which  men  commit  against  him,  the  Lord  complains  by 
his  prophet  Jeremy:  "For  my  people  have  done  two 
evils.  They  have  forsaken  me,  the  fountain  of  living 
waters,  and  have  digged  to  themselves  cisterns — broken 
cisterns— that  can  hold  no  water."  (Jer.  ii.  13.)  Since, 
then,  the  sinner  turns  his  back  on  God,  he  shall  be  tor 
mented  in  hell,  by  the  pain  arising  from  the  loss  of  God, 
of  which  I  shall  speak  on  another  occasion  [see  the  Ser 
mon  for  the  nineteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost],  and 
since,  in  offending  God,  he  turns  to  creatures,  he  shall 
be  justly  tormented  by  the  same  creatures,  and  princi 
pally  by  fire. 

4.  "  The  vengeance  on  the  flesh  of  the  ungodly  is  fire 
and* worms."  (EccL  vii.  19.)     Fire  and  the  remorse  of 
conscience  are  the  principal  means  by  which  God  takes 
vengeance  on  the  flesh  of  the  wicked.     Hence,  in  con 
demning  the  reprobate  to  hell,  Jesus  Christ  commands 
them  to  go  into  eternal  fire.     :t  Depart  from  me,  you 
cursed,  into  everlasting  fire."  (Matt.   xxv.  41.)     This 
fire,  then,  shall  be  one  of  the  most  cruel  executioners  of 
the  damned.  ., 

5.  Even  in  this  life  the  pain  of  fire  is  the  mosUemolc 
of  all  torments.     But  St.  Augustine  says,  that  in  com 
parison  of  the  fire  of  hell,  the  fire  of  this  earth  is  no 
more  than  a  picture  compared  with  the  reality,  ^     In 
cuius  comparatione  noster  hie  ignus  depictus  est. 
Anselm  teaches,  that  the  fire  of  hell  as  far  surpasses  the 
fire  of  this  world,  as  the  fire  of  the  real  exceeds  that  of 
painted  fire.     The  pain,  then,  produced  by  the  nre  ot 
hell  is  far  greater  than  that  which  is  produced  by  our 
fire    because  God  has  made  the  fire  of  this  earth  for  the 
use  of  man,  but  he  has  created  the  fire  of  hell  purposely 
for  the  chastisement  of  sinners ;  and  therefore,  as  ler- 
tullian  says,  he  has  made  it  a  minister  of  his  justice. 
"  Longe  alius  est  ignis,  qui  usui  humano,  alms  qui l> 
justitiS,  deservit."     This  avenging  fire  is  always  kept 
alive  by  the  wrath  of  God.     "  A  fire  is  kindled  in  my 

^ ?'  "  And  the'  rich  man  also  died,  and  he  was  buried 
in  hell."  (Luke  xvi.  22.)  The  damned  are  buried  m 
the  fire  of  hell ;  hence  they  have  an  abyss  of  fire  below, 


78  SERMON   X. 


an  abyss  of  fire  above,  and  an  abyss  of  fire  on  every  side. 
As  a  fish  in  the  sea  is  surrounded  by  water,  so  the  un 
happy  reprobate  are  encompassed  by  fire  on  every  side. 
The  sharpness  of  the  pain  of  fire  may  be  inferred  from 
the  circumstance,  that  the  rich  glutton  complained  of  no 
othei  torment.  "  I  am  tormented  in  this  flame."  (Ibid, 
v  23.) 

7  The  Prophet  Isaias  says  that  the  Lord  will  punish 
the  guilt  of  sinners  with  the  spirit  of  fire.  u  If  the 
Lord  shall  wash  away  the  filth  of  the  daughters  of  Sion 
by  the  spirit  of  burning"  (iv.  4).  "  The  spirit  of 
burning"  is  the  pure  essence  of  fire.  All  spirits  or 
essences,  though  taken  from  simple  herbs  or  flowers,  are 
so  penetrating,  that  they  reach  the  very  bones.  Such  is 
the  fire  of  hell.  Its  activity  is  so  great,  that  a  single 
spark  of  it  would  be  sufficient  to  melt  a  mountain  of 
bronze.  The  disciple  relates,  that  a  damned  nerson, 
who  appeared  to  a  religious,  dipped  his  hand  into  a 
vessel  of  water;  the  religious  placed  in  the  vessel  a 
candlestick  of  bronze,  which  was  instantly  dissolved. 

8.  This  fire  shall  torment  the  damned  not  only  exter 
nally,  but  also  internally.     It  will  burn  the  bowels,  the 
heart,  the  brains,  the  blood  within  the  veins,  and  the 
marrow  within  the  bones.     The  skin  of  the  damned  shall 
be  like  a  caldron,  in  which  their  bowels,  their  flesh,  and 
their  bones  shall  be  burned.     David  says,  that  the  bodies 
of  the  damned  shall  be  like  so  many  furnaces  of  fire. 
"  Thou  shalt  make  them  as  an  oven  of  fire  in  the  time 
of  thy  anger."  (Ps.  xx.  10.) 

9.  O  God  !  certain  sinners  cannot  bear  to  walk  under 
a  strong  sun,  or  to  remain  before  a  large  fire  in  a  close 
room  ;  they  cannot  endure  a  spark  from  a  candle  ;  and 
they  fear  not  the  fire  of  hell,  which,  according  to  the 
Prophet  Isaias,  not  only  burns,  but  devours  the  unhappy 
damned.     "  Which  of  you  can  dwell  with  devouring 
fire  V9  (Isaias  xxxiii.  14.)     As  a  lion  devours  a  lamb,  so 
the  fire  of  hell  devours  the  reprobate ;  but  it  devours 
without  destroying  life,  and  thus  tortures  them  with  a 
continual  death.     Continue,  says  St.  Peter  Damian  to 
the  sinner  who  indulges  in  impurity,  continue  to  satisfy 
your  flesh  ;  a  day  will  come,  or  rather  an  eternal  night, 
when  your  impurities,  like  pitch,  shall  nourish  a  fire 


PAINS    OF    HELL.  79 

within  your  very  bowels.  "  Yenit  dies,  imo  nox,  quando 
libido  tua  vertetur  in  picem  qua  se  nutriet  perpetuus 
ignis  in  visceribus  tuis."  (Epist.  6.)  And  according 
to  St.  Cyprian,  the  impurities  of  the  wicked  shall  boil 
in  the  very  fat  which  will  issue  from  their  accursed 
bodies. 

10,  St.  Jerome  teaches,  that  in  this  fire  sinners  shall 
suffer  not  only  the  pain  of  the  fire,  but  also  all  the  pains 
which  men  endure  on  this  earth.     "  In  uno  igne  omnia 
supplicia  sentient  in  inferno  peccatores."  (Ep.  ad  Pam.) 
How  manifold  are  the  pains  to  which  men  are  subject  in 
this  life.     Pains  in  the  sides,  pains  in  the  head,  pains  in 
the  loins,  pains  in  the  bowels.  All  these  together  torture 
the  damned. 

11.  The  fire  itself  will  bring  with  it  the  pain  of  dark 
ness  ;  for,  by  its  smoke  it  will,  according  to  St.  J  ohn, 
produce   a   storm   of  darkness   which   shall   blind  the 
damned."     "  To  whom  the  storm  of  darkness  is  reserved 
for  ever."  (St.  Jude  13.)     Hence,  hell  is  called  a  land 
of  darkness  covered  with  the  shadow  of  death.     "  A 
land  that  is  dark  and  covered  with  the  mist  of  death  •  a 
land   of  misery   and   darkness,    wheie   the   shadow   of 
death,  and  no  order  but  everlasting  horror  dwelleth." 
(Job  x.  21,  22.)     To  hear  that  a  criminal  is  shut  up  in 
a  dungeon  for  ten  or  twenty  years  excites  our  compas 
sion.     Hell  is  a  dungeon  closed  on  every  side,  into  which 
a  ray  of  the  sun  or  the  light  of  a  candle  never  enters. 
Thus  the  damned  "  shall  never  see  light."  (Ps  xlviii. 
20.)    ^The  fire  of  this  world  gives  light,  but  the  fire  of 
hell   is   utter   darkness.     In   explaining   the   words  of 
David,  "  the  voice  of  the  Lord  divideth  the  flame  of 
fire,"  (Ps.  xxviii.  7,)    St.  Basil  says,  that  in  hell  the 
Lord  separates  the  fire  that  burns  from  the  flame  which 
illuminates,  and  therefore  this  fire  burns,  but  gives  no 
light.     B.  Albertus  Magnus  explains  this  passage  more 
concisely  by  saying  that  God  "  divides  the  heat  from  the 
light."     St.  Thomas  teaches,  that  in  hell  there  is  only 
so  much  lig;ht  as  is  necessary  to  torment  the  damned  by 
the  sight  of  their  associates  and  of  the  devils:  "  Quan 
tum  sufficit  ad  videndum  ilia  qua3  torquere  possunt." 
(3  p.,  q.  97,  art.  5.)     And  according  to  St.  Augustine, 
the  bare  sight  of  these  infernal  monsters  excites  sufficient 


80  SERMON    X. 

terror  to  cause  the  death  of  all  the  damned,  if  they  were 
capable  of  dying.  "  Yidebunt  monstra,  quorum  visio 
postet  illos  occidere." 

12.  To  suffer  a  parching  thirst,  without  having  a  drop 
of  water  to  quench  it,  is  intolerably  painful.     It  has 
sometimes  happened,  that  travellers  who  could  procure 
no  refreshment  after  a  long  journey,  have  fainted  from 
the  pain  produced  by  thirst.     So  great  is  the  thirst  of 
the  damned,  that  if  one  of  them  were  offered  all  the 
water  on  this  earth,  he  would  exclaim  :  All  this  water 
is  not  sufficient  to  extinguish  the  burning  thirst  which  I 
endure.     But,  alas  !  the  unhappy  darned   shall   never 
have  a  single  drop  of  water  to  refresh  their  tongues. 
"  He  cried  out  and  said  :  Father  Abraham,  have  mercy 
on  me,  and  send  Lazarus,  that  he  may  dip  the  tip  of  his 
finger  in  water,  to  cool  my  tongue,  for  I  am  tormented 
in  this  flame.'1  (St.  Luke  xvi.  24.)     The  rich  glutton  has 
not  obtained,  and  shall  never  obtain,  this  drop  of  water, 
as  long  as  God  shall  be  God. 

13.  The  reprobate  shall  be  likewise  tormented  by  the 
stench  which   pervades   hell.     The   stench   shall   arise 
from  the  very  bodies  of  the  damned.     "  Out  of  their 
carcasses  shall  arise  a  stink."  (Isaiah  xxxiv.  3.)     The 
bodies  of  the  damned  are  called  carcasses,  not  because 
they  are  dead  (for  they  are  living,  and  shall  be  for  ever 
alive  to  pain),  but  on  account  of  the  stench  which  they 
exhale.     Would  it  not  be  very  painful  to  be  shut  up  in 
a  close  room  with  a  fetid  corpse  ?     St.  Bonaventure 
says,  that  if  the  body  of  one  of  the  damned  were  placed 
in  the  earth,   it  would,  by  its  stench,  be  sufficient  to 
cause  the  death  of  all  men.     How  intolerable,   then, 
must  it  be  to  live  for  ever  in  the  dungeons  of  hell  in 
the  midst  of  the  immense  multitudes  of  the  damned ! 
Some  foolish  worldlings  say  :  If  I  go  to  hell,  I  shall  not 
be  there  alone.     Miserable  fools !  do  you  not  see  that  the 
greater   the   number   of  your   companions,    the    more 
insufferable  shall  be  your  torments  ?     "  There,"  says  St. 
Thomas,  "  the  society  of  the  reprobate  shall  cause  an 
increase  and  not  a  diminution  of  misery."  (Suppl.,  q.  86, 
art.  1.)     The  society  of  the  reprobate  augments  their 
misery,   because   each   of  the   damned  is  a  source  of 
suffering  to  all  the  others.     Hence,  the  greater  their 


PAINS    OF    HELL.  81 


number,  the  more  they  shall  mutually  torment  each 
other.  "  And  the  people,"  says  the  prophet  Isaias, 
"  shall  be  ashes  after  a  fire,  as  a  bundle  of  thorns  they 
shall  be  burnt  with  fire."  (Isa.  xxxiii.  12.)  Placed  in 
the  midst  of  the  furnace  of  hell,  the  damned  are  like  so 
many  grains  reduced  to  ashes  by  that  abyss  of  fire,  and  like 
so  many  thorns  tied  together  and  wounding  each  other. 

14.  They  are  tormented  not  only  by  the  stench  of  their 
companions,  but  also  by  their  shrieks  and  lamentations. 
How  painful  it  is  to  a  person  longing  for  sleep  to  hear 
the  groans  of  a  sick  man,  the  barking  of  a  dog,  or  the 
screams  of  an  infant.     The  damned  must  listen  inces 
santly  to  the  wailing  and  howling  of  their  associates,  not 
for  a  night,  nor  for  a  thousand  nights,  but  for  all  eternity, 
without  the  interruption  of  a  single  moment. 

15.  The  damned  are  also  tormented  by  the  narrow 
ness  of  the  place   in  which  they  are   confined;    for, 
although  the  dungeon  of  hell  is  large,  it  will  be  too 
small  for  so  many  millions  of  the  reprobate,  who  like 
sheep  shall  be  heaped  one  over  the  other.     "  They  are," 
says  David,  "laid  in  hell  like  sheep."  (Ps.  xlviii.  15.) 
We  learn  from  the  Scriptures  that  they  shall  be  pressed 
together  like  grapes  in  the  winepress,  by  the  vengeance 
of  an  angry  God.     "  The  winepress  of  the  fierceness  of 
the  wrath  of  God  the  Almighty."  (Apoc.  xix.  15.)    From 
this  pressure  shall  arise  the  pain  of  immobility.     '*  Let 
them  become  unmoveable  as  a  stone."  (Exod.  xvi.  16.) 
In  whatever  position  the  damned  shall  fall  into  hell 
after  the  general  judgment,  whether  on  the  side,  or  on 
the  back,  or  with  the  head  downwards,  in  that  they  must 
remain  for  eternity,  without  being  ever  able  to  move 
foot  or  hand  or  finger,  as  long  as  God  shall  be  God.     In 
a  word,  St.  Chrysostom  says,  that  all  the  pains  of  this 
life,  however  great  they  may  be,  are  scarcely^  shadow 
of  the  torments  of  the  damned.     "  Hcec  omnia  ludicra 
sunt  et  risus  ad  ilia  supplicia :  pone  ignem,  ferrum,  et 
bestias,  attamen  vix umbra  sunt  ad  ilia  tormenta."  (Horn, 
xxxix.  ad  pop.  Ant.) 

16.  The  reprobate,  then,  shall  be  tormented  in  all  the 
senses  of  the  body.     They  shall  also  be  tormented  in  all 
the  powers  of  the  soul.     Their  memory  shall  be  tor 
mented  by  the  remembrance  of  the  years  which  they 


82 


SERMON    X. 


had  received  from  God  for  the  salvation  of  their  souls, 
and  which  they  spent  in  labouring  for  their  own  damna 
tion  ;  by  the  remembrance  of  so  many  graces  and  so 
many  divine  lights  which  they  abused.  Their  under 
standing  shall  be  tormented  by  the  knowledge  of  the 
great  happiness  which  they  forfeited  in  losing  their  souls, 
heaven,  and  God ;  and  by  a  conviction  that  this  loss  is 
irreparable.  Their  will  shall  be  tormented  by  seeing 
that  whatsoever  they  ask  or  desire  shall  be  refused. 
"The  desire  of  the  wicked  shall  perish."  (Ps.  cxi.  10.) 
They  shall  never  have  any  of  those  things  for  which 
they  wish,  and  must  for  ever  suffer  all  that  is  repugnant 
to  their  will.  They  would  wish  to  escape  from  these 
torments  and  to  find  peace  ;  but  in  these  torments  they 
must  for  ever  remain,  and  peace  they  shall  never  enjoy. 
17.  Perhaps  they  may  sometimes  receive  a  little  com 
fort,  or  at  least  enjoy  occasional  repose  ?  No,  says 
Cyprian  :  "  Nullum  ibi  refrigerium,  nullum  remedium, 
atque  ita  omni  tormento  atrocius  desperatio."  (Serm.  de 
Ascens.)  In  this  life,  how  great  soever  may  be  the 
tribulations  which  we  suffer,  there  is  always  some  relief 
or  interruption.  The  damned  must  remain  for  ever  in 
a  pit  of  fire,  always  in  torture,  always  weeping,  without 
ever  enjoying  a  moment's  repose.  But  perhaps  there  is 
some  one  to  pity  their  sufferings?  At  the  very  time 
that  they  are  so  much  afflicted  the  devils  continually 
reproach  them  with  the  sins  for  which  they  are  tor 
mented,  saying :  Suffer,  burn,  live  for  ever  in  despair : 
you  yourselves  have  been  the  cause  of  your  destruction. 
And  do  not  the  saints,  the  divine  mother,  and  God,  who 
is  called  the  Father  of  Mercies,  take  compassion  on  their 
miseries  ?  No ;  "  the  sun  shall  be  darkened,  and  the 
moon  shall  not  give  her  light,  and  the  stars  shall  fall 
from  heaven."  (Matt.  xxvi.  29.)  The  saints,  represented 
by  tbe  stars,  not  only  do  not  pity  the  damned,  but  they 
even  rejoice  in  the  vengeance  inflicted  on  the  injuries 
offered  to  their  God.  Neither  can  the  divine  mother 
pity  them,  because  they  hate  her  Son.  And  Jesus 
Christ,  who  died  for  the  love  of  them,  cannot  pity  them, 
because  they  have  despised  his  love,  and  have  voluntarily 
brought  themselves  to  perdition. 


DEATH    OF   THE   JUST.  83 


SERMON  XI.— SIXTH   SUNDAY  AFTEE,    THE 
EPIPHANY. 

On  the  death  of  the  just. 

"The  kingdom  of  heaven  is  like  unto  leaven,  which  a  woman  took 
and  hid  in  three  measures  of  meal  until  the  whole  was  leavened." — • 
MATT.  xiii.  33. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  find  that  a  woman,  after  putting 
leaven  in  the  dough,  waits  till  the  entire  is  fermented. 
Here  the  Lord  gives  us  to  understand  that  the  kingdom 
of  heaven — that  is,  the  attainment  of  eternal  beatitude 
— is  like  the  leaven.  By  the  leaven  is  understood  the 
divine  grace,  which  makes  the  soul  acquire  merits  for 
eternal  life.  But  this  eternal  life  is  obtained  only  when 
"  the  whole  is  leavened ;"  that  is,  when  the  soul  has 
arrived  at  the  end  of  the  present  life  and  the  completion 
of  her  merits.  We  shall,  then,  speak  to-day  of  the  death 
of  the  just,  which  we  should  not  fear,  but  should  desire 
with  our  whole  souls.  For,  says  St.  Bonaventure, 
"  Triplex  in  morte  congratulatio,  hominem  ab  omni 
labore,  peccato,  et  periculo  liberari."  Man  should 
rejoice  at  death,  for  three  reasons — First,  because  death 
delivers  him  from  labour — that  is,  from  suffering  the 
miseries  of  this  life  and  the  assault  of  his  enemies. 
Secondly,  because  it  delivers  him  from  actual  sins. 
Thirdly,  because  it  delivers  him  from  the  danger  of  fall 
ing  into  hell,  and  opens  Paradise  to  him. 

First  Point. — Death  delivers  us  from  the  miseries  of 
this  life,  and  from  the  assaults  of  our  enemies. 

1.  What  is  death?  St.  Eucherius  answers,  that 
"  death  is  the  end  of  miseries."  Job  said  that  our  life, 
however  short  it  may  be,  is  full  of  miseries,  of  infirmities, 
of  crosses,  of  persecutions,  and  fears.  "  Man  born  of  a 
woman,  living  for  a  short  time,  is  filled  with  many 
miseries."  (Job  xiv.  1.)  What,  says  St.  Augustine,  do 
men  who  wish  for  a  prolongation  of  life  on  this  earth 
desire  but  a  prolongation  of  suffering  ?"  "  Quid  est  diu 
vivere  nisi  diu  tor  queri."  (Serm.  xviL  de  Serb.  Dom.) 
Yes ;  for,  as  St.  Ambrose  remarks,  the  present  life  was 


SERMON   XI. 


given  to  us  not  for  repose  or  enjoyment,  but  for  labour 
and  suffering,  that  by  toils  and  pains  we  may  merit 
Paradise.  "  Haic  vita  homini  non  ad  quitem  data  est, 
sed  ad  laborem."  (Serm.  xliii.)  Hence  the  same  holy 
doctor  says,  that,  though  death  is  the  punishment  of  sin, 
still  the  miseries  of  this  life  are  so  great,  that  death 
appears  to  be  a  relief  rather  than  a  chastisement  :  "  Ut 
mors  rcmediuni  videatur  esse,  non  poena.'1 

2.  To  those  who  love  God,  the  severest  of  all  the 
crosses  of  this  life  are  the  assaults  of  hell  to  rob  them 
of  the  divine  grace.  Hence  St.  Denis  the  Areopagite 
says,  that  they  joyfully  meet  death,  as  the  end  of  their 
combats,  and  embrace  it  with  gladness,  because  they 
hope  to  die  a  good  death,  and  to  be  thus  freed  from  all 
fear  of  ever  again  falling  into  sin.  "  Diyino  gaudio  et 
mortis  terminum  tanquam  ad  finem  certaminum  tendunt, 
non  amplius  metuentus  pervertii."  (De  Hier.  Eccl.,  cap. 
vii.)  The  greatest  consolation  which  a  soul  that  loves 
God  experiences  at  the  approach  of  death,  arises  from 
the  thought  of  being  delivered  from  so  many  tempta 
tions,  from  so  many  remorses  of  conscience,  and  from 
so  many  dangers  of  offending  God.  Ah  !  says  St. 
Ambrose,  as  long  as  we  live,  "we  walk  among  snares." 
We  walk  continually  in  the  midst  of  the  snares  of  our 
enemies,  who  lie  in  wait  to  deprive  us  of  the  life  of 
grace.  It  was  the  fear  of  falling  into  sin  that  made  St. 
Peter  of  Alcantara,  in  his  last  moments,  say  to  a  lay 
brother  who,  in  attending  the  saint,  accidently  touched 
him  :  "  Brother,  remove,  remove  from  me,  for  I  am  still 
alive  and  in  danger  of  being  lost."  The  thought  of 
being  freed  from  the  danger  of  sin  by  death  consoled 
St.  Teresa,  and  made  her  rejoice  as  often  as  she  heard 
the  clock  strike,  that  an  hour  of  the  combat  \yas  past. 
Hence  she  used  to  say  :  "  In  each  moment  of  life  we 
may  sin  and  lose  God."  Hence  the  news  of  approaching 
death  filled  the  saints  not  with  sorrow  or  regret,  but 
with  sentiments  of  joy  ;  because  they  knew  that  their 
struggles  and  the  dangers  of  losing  the  divine  grace 
were  soon  to  have  an  end. 

3.  "  But  the  just  man,  if  he  be  prevented  with  death, 
shall  be  in  rest."  (Wis.  iv.  7.)  He  who  is  prepared  to 
die,  regards  death  as  a  relief.  If,  says  St.  Cyprian,  you 


DEATH   OF    THE    JUST.  85 

lived  in  a  house  whose  roof  and  walls  were  tottering  and 
threatening  destruction,  would  you  not  fly  from,  it  as 
soon  as  possible  ?  In  this  life  everything  menaces  ruin 
to  the  poor  soul — the  world,  the  devils,  the  flesh,  the 
passions,  all  draw  her  to  sin  and  to  eternal  death.  It 
was  this  that  made  St.  Paul  exclaim:  "  Who  shall  deliver 
me  from  the  body  of  this  death?"  (Rom.  vii.  24.)  Who 
shall  deliver  me  from  this  body  of  mine,  which  lives 
continually  in  a  dying  state,  on  account  of  the  assaults 
of  my  enemies  ?  Hence  he  esteemed  death  as  a  great 
gam,  because  it  brought  to  him  the  possession  of  Jesus 
Christ,  his  true  life.  Happy  then  are  they  who  die  in 
the  Lord  :  because  they  escape  from  pains  and  toils,  and 
go  to  rest.  "  Blessed  are  the  dead  who  die  in  the  Lord. 
From  henceforth  now,  saith  the  spirit,  that  they  may 
rest  from  their  labours."  (Apoc.  xiv.  13.)  It  is  related 
in  the  lives  of  the  ancient  fathers,  that  one  of  them  who 
was  very  old,  when  dying,  smiled,  while  the  others  wept. 
Being  asked  why  he  smiled,  he  said :  (t  Why  do  you  weep 
at  seeing  me  go  to  rest  ? — Ex  labore  ad  requiem  vado,  et 
vos  ploratis  ?"  At  the  hour  of  death,  St.  Catherine  of 
Sienna  said  to  her  sisters  in  religion  :  Hejoice  with  me: 
for  I  leave  this  land  of  suffering,  and  am  going  to  the 
kingdom  of  p^eace.  The  death  of  the  saints  is  called  a 
sleep — that  is,  the  repose  which  God  gives  to  his 
servants  as  the  reward  of  their  toil  "  When  he  shall 
give  sleep  to  his  beloved,  behold  the  inheritance  of  the 
Lord."  (Ps.  cxxvi.  2.)  Hence  the  soul  that  loves  God 
neither  weeps  nor  is  troubled  at  the  approach  of  death, 
but,  embracing  the  crucifix,  and  burning  with  love,  she 
says  :  "  In  peace  in  the  self  same  I  will  sleep  and  I  will 
rest."  (Ps.  iv.  9.) 

4.  That  "  Proficiscere  de  hoc  mundo,"  ("  Depart, 
Christian  soul,  from  this  world,")  which  is  so  appalling  to 
sinners  at  the  hour  of  death,  does  not  alarm  the  saints. 
"  But  the  souls  of  the  just  are  in  the  hands  of  God,  and 
the  torment  of  death  shall  not  touch  them."  (Wis.  iii. 
1.)  The  saint  is  not  afflicted,  like  worldlings,  at  the 
thought  of  being  obliged  to  leave  the  goods  of  this 
earth,  because  he  has  kept  the  soul  detached  from 
them.  During  life,  he  always  regarded  God  as  tho 
Lord  of  his  heart  and  as  the  sole  riches  which  ha 


SERMON   XT. 


desired :  "  What  have  I  in  heaven  ?  and,  besides  thee, 
what  do  I  desire  upon  earth  ?  Thou  art  the  God  of 
my  heart  and  the  God  that  is  my  portion  for  ever."  (Ps. 
Ixxxii.  25,  26.)  He  is  not  afflicted  at  leaving  honours, 
because  the  only  honour  which  he  sought  was,  to  love 
and  to  be  loved  by  God.  All  the  honours  of  this  world 
he  has  justly  esteemed  as  smoke  and  vanity.  He  is  not 
afflicted  at  leaving  his  relatives,  because  he  loved  them 
only  in  God.  In  his  last  moments  he  recommends  them 
to  his  heavenly  Father,  who  loves  them  more  than  he 
does.  And  having  a  secure  confidence  of  salvation,  he 
hopes  to  be  better  able  to  assist  his  relatives  from  Para 
dise,  than  on  this  earth.  In  a  word,  what  he  frequently 
said  during  life,  he  continues  to  repeat  with  greater 
fervour  at  the  hour  of  death — "  My  God  and  my  all." 

5.  Besides,  his  peace  is  not  disturbed  by  the  pains  of 
death ;  but,  seeing  that  he  is  now  at  the  end  of  his  life, 
and  that  he  has  no  more  time  to  suffer  for  God,  or  to 
offer  him  other  proofs  of  love,  he  accepts  those  pains 
with  joy,  and  offers  them  to  God  as  the  last  remains  of 
life ;  and  uniting  his  death  with  the  death  of  Jesus  Christ, 
he  offers  it  to  the  Divine  Majesty. 

0.  And  although  the  remembrance  of  the  sins  which 
he  has  committed  will  afflict,  it  will  not  disturb  him ; 
for,  since  he  is  convinced  that  the  Lord  will  forget  the 
sins  of  all  true  penitents,  the  very  sorrow  which  he  feels 
for  his  sins,  gives  him  an  assurance  of  pardon.  "  If  the 
wicked  do  penance.  ...  I  will  not  remember  all  his 
iniquities  that  he  hath  done."  (Ezec.  xviii.  21  and  22.) 
"How,"  asks  St.  Basil,  "can  anyone  be  certain  that 
God  has  pardoned  his  sins  ?  He  may  be  certain  of 
pardon  if  he  say :  I  have  hated  and  abhorred  iniquity." 
(In  Reg.  inter.  12.)  He  who  detests  his  sins,  and  offers 
to  God  his  death  in  atonement  for  them,  may  rest  secure 
that  God  has  pardoned  them.  "  Mors,"  says  St.  Augus 
tine,  "  qua3  in  lege  naturae  erat  poona  peccati  in  lege 
gratis  est  hostia  pro  peccato."  (Lib.  iv.  de  Trin.  c.  xxii.) 
Death,  which  was  a  chastisement  of  sin  under  the  law 
of  nature,  has  become,  in  the  law  of  grace,  a  victim  of 
penance,  by  which  the  pardon  of  sin  is  obtained. 

7.  The  very  love  which  a  soul  bears  to  God,  assures 
her  of  his  grace,  and  delivers  her  from  the  fear  of  being 


DEATH    OF    TFIE    JUST.  87 

lost.  "  Charity  casteth  out  fear."  (1  John  iv.  18.)  If, 
at  the  hour  of  death,  you  are  unwilling  to  pardon  an 
enemy,  or  to  restore  what  is  not  your  own,  or  if  you 
wish  to  keep  up  an  improper  friendship,  then  tremble 
for  your  eternal  salvation  ;  for  you  have  great  reason  to 
be  afraid  of  death ;  but  if  you  seek  to  avoid  sin,  and  to 
preserve  in  your  heart  a  testimony  that  you  love  God, 
bo  assured  that  he  is  with  you :  and  if  the  Lord  is  with 
you,  what  do  you  fear  ?  And  if  you  wish  to  be  assured 
that  you  have  within  you  the  divine  love,  embrace 
death  with  peace,  and  offer  it  from  your  heart  to  God. 
He  that  offers  to  God  his  death,  makes  an  act  of  love 
the  most  perfect  that  is  possible  for  him  to  perform ; 
because,  by  cheerfully  embracing  death  to  please  God, 
at  the  time  and  in  the  manner  which  God  ordains,  he 
becomes  like  the  martyrs,  the  entire  merit  of  whose 
martyrdom  consisted  in  suffering  and  dying  to  please 
God. 

Second  Point. — Death  frees  us  from  actual  sins. 

8.  It  is  impossible  to  live  in  this  world  without  com 
mitting  at  least  some  slight  faults.     "  A  just  man  shall 
fall  seven  times/'  (Prov.  xxiv.  16.)     He  who  ceases  to 
live,  ceases  to  offend  God.     Hence  St.  Ambrose  called 
death  the  burial  of  vices :  by  death  they  are  buried,  and 
never  appear  again.     "  Quid  est  mors   nisi  sepultura 
vitorum?"  (De  Bono  Mort.  cap.  iv.)      The  venerable 
Vincent  Caraffa  consoled  himself  at  the  hour  of  death 
by  saying :  now  that  I  cease  to  live,  I  cease  for  ever  to 
offend  my  God.     He  who  dies  in  the  grace  of  God,  goes 
into  that  happy  state  in  which  he  shall  love  God  for 
ever,  and  shall  never  more  offend  him.     "  Mortuus," 
says  the   same   holy   doctor,    "  nescit  peccare.      Quid 
tanto  pere  vita  mistam  desideramus,  in  qua  quanto  diutius 
quis  fuerit,  tanto  majori  oneratur  sarcina  peccatorum." 
How  can  we  desire  this  life,  in  which  the  longer  we  live, 
the  greater  shall  be  the  load  of  our  sins  ? 

9.  Hence  the  Lord  praises  the  dead  more  than  any 
man  living :  "  I  praised  the  dead  rather  than  the  living." 
(Eccl.  iv.  2.)     Because  no  man  on  this  earth,  however 
holy  he  may  be,  is  exempt  from  sins.     A  spiritual  soul 
gave  directions  that  the  person  who  should  bring  to  her 


88  SERMON   XI. 


the  news  of  death,  should  say :  "  Console  yourself,  for  the 
time  has  arrived  when  you  shall  no  longer  offend  God." 

10.  St.  Ambrose  adds,  that  God  permitted  death  to 
enter  into  the  world,  that,  by  dying,  men  should  cease 
to  sin:    "Passus  est  Dominus   subintrare   mortem  ut 
culpa  cessaret."  (Loco  cit.)     It  is,  then,  a  great  error  to 
imagine  that  death  is  a  chastisement  for  those  who  love 
God.     It  is  a  mark  of  the  love  which  God  bears  to 
them  ',  because  he  shortens  their  life  to  put  an  end  to 
sin,  from  which  they  cannot  be  exempt  as  long  as  they 
remain  on  this  earth.     "  For  his  soul   pleased   God  : 
therefore  he  hastened  to  bring  him  out  of  the  midst  of 
iniquities."  (Wis.  iv.  14.) 

Third  Point. — Death  delivers  us  from  the  danger  of 
falling  into  hell,  and  opens  Paradise  to  us. 

11.  "  Precious  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord  is  the  death 
of  the  saints."  (Ps.  cxv.  16.)     Considered  according  to 
the  senses,  death  excites  fear  and  terror ;  but,  viewed 
with  the  eye  of  faith,  it  is  consoling  and  desirable.     To 
the  saints  it  is  as  amiable  and  as  precious,  as  it  appears 
terrible  to  sinners.     "  It  is  precious,"  says  St.  Bernard, 
"  as  the  end  of  labours,  the  consummation  of  victory,  the 
gate  of  life."     The  joy  of  the  cup-bearer  of  Pharaoh, 
at  hearing  from  Joseph  that  he  should  soon  be  released 
from  prison,  bears  no  comparison  to  that  which  a  soul 
that  loves  God  feels  on  hearing  that  she  is  to  be  liber 
ated  from  the  exile  of  this  earth,  and  to  be  transported 
to  the  enjoyment  of  God  in  her  true  country.     The 
Apostle  says,  that,  as  long  as  we  remain  in  the  body,  we 
wander  at  a  distance  from  our  country  in  a  strange  land, 
and  far  removed  from  the  life  of  God :  "  While  we  are 
in  the  body,  we  are  absent  from  the  Lord."  (2  Cor.  v. 
6.)     Hence,  St.  Bruno  teaches,  that  our  death  should 
not  be  called  death,  but  the  beginning  of  life.     "  Mors 
dicenda  non  est,  sed  vita}  principium."     And  St.  Athana- 
sius  says:  "  Non  est  justis  mors  sed  translatio."     To  the 
just,  death  is  but  a  passage  from  the  miseries  of  this 
earth  to  the  eternal  delights  of  Paradise.     O  desirable 
death  !  exclaimed  St.  Augustine ;  who  is  there  that  does 
not  desire  thee  ?     For  thou  art  the  term  of  evils,  the  end 
of  toils,  and  the  beginning  of  everlasting  repose  !     "  O 


DEATH    OF    THE    JUST.  89 


mors  desirabilis,  malorum  finis,  laboris  clausula,  quietis 
principium." 

12.  No  one  can  enter  into  heaven  to  see  God  without 
passing  through  the  gate  of  death.     "  This  is  the  gate 
of  the  Lord — the  just  shall  enter  into  it."     (Ps.  cxvii. 
20.)     Hence,  addressing  death,  St.  Jerome  said :  "  Aperi 
mini  soror  mea."     Death,  my  sister,  if  you  do  not  open 
the  gate  to  me,  I  cannot  enter  to  enjoy  my  God.     And 
St.  Charles  Borromeo,  seeing  in  his  house  a  picture  of 
death  with  a  knife  in  the  hand,  sent  for  a  painter  to 
cancel  the  knife,  and  substitute  for  it  a  key  of  gold ; 
because,  said  the  saint,  it  is  death  that  opens  Paradise. 
Were  a  queen  confined  in  a  dark  prison,  how  great 
would  be  her  joy   at  hearing  that   the   gates  of  the 
prison  are  open,  and  that  she  is   to  return  from  the 
dungeon  to  her  palace !     It  was  to  be  liberated  by  death 
from  the  prison  of  this  life  that  David  asked,  when  he 
said :    "  Bring  my  soul  out  of  prison."    (Ps.  cxli.   8.) 
This,  too,  was  the  favour  which  the  venerable  Simeon 
asked  of  the  infant  Jesus,  when  he  held  him  in  his  arms : 
"  Now  thou  dost  dismiss  thy  servant."  (Luke  ii.  29.) 
"  As  if  detained  by  force,"  says  St.  Ambrose,  "  he  asked 
to  be  dismissed."     Simeon  sought  to  be  delivered  by 
death,  as  if  he  had  been  compelled  by  force  to  live  on 
this  earth. 

13.  St.  Cyprian  says,  that  the  sinner  who  shall  pass 
from  temporal  to  eternal  death,  has  just  reason  to  be 
afraid  of  death.     "  Mori  timeat,  qui  ad  secundum  mor 
tem  de  hac  morte  transibit."     But  he  who  is  in  the 
state  of  grace  and  hopes  to  pass  from  death  to  eternal 
life — which  is  the  true  life — tears  not  death.     It  is  re 
lated  that  a  certain  rich  man  gave  to  St.    John    the 
Almoner  a  large  sum  of  money  to  be  dispensed  in  alms, 
for  the  purpose  of  obtaining  from  God  a  long  life  for 
his  only  son.     The  son  died  in  a  short  time.     The  father 
complained  of  the  death  of  his  son  ;  but,  to  console  him, 
the  Lord  sent  an  angel  to  say  to  him  :  "  You  have  sought 
a  long  life  for  your  son,  and  the  Lord  has  heard  your 
prayer ;  for  your  son  is  in  heaven,   where   he  enjoys 
eternal  life."     This  is  the  grace  which,  according  to  the 
promise  of  the  prophet  Osee,  the  Redeemer  obtained 
for  us.     "  0  death,  I  will  be  thy  death."  (xiii.  14.)     By 


90 


SERMON    XI. 


his  redemption,  Jesus  Christ  destroyed  death,  and 
changed  it  into  a  source  of  life  to  us.  When  St.  Pionius, 
martyr,  was  asked  how  he  could  go  to  death  with  sc 
much  joy,  he  answered:  "  You  err;  I  do  not  go  to  death 
but  to  life."  "  Erratis  non  ad  mortem,  sed  ad  vitam  con- 
tendo."  (Apud  Eusub.,  lib.  iv.  cap.  xiv  )  Thus  also  St. 
Symphorosa  exhorted  her  son,  St.  Symphorian,  to  mar 
tyrdom  :  "  My  son,"  said  she,  "  life  is  not  taken  away 
from  you;  it  is  only  changed  for  a  better  one." 

14.  St.  Augustine  says,  that  they  who  love  God  desire 
to  see  him  speedily,  and  that,  therefore,  to  them  life  is 
a   cause   of  suffering,  and   death   an   occasion  of  joy. 
"Patienter  vivit,  delectabiliter  moritur."  (Trac.  ix.  in 
Ep.  Joan.)     St.  Teresa  used  to  say,  that  to  her  life  was 
death.     Hence  she  composed  the  celebrated  hymn,  "  I 
die  because  I  dp  not  die."     To  that  great  servant  of  God 
D.  Sancia  Carriglio — a  penitent  of  Father  M.  Avila — it 
was  one  day  revealed,  that  she  had  but  a  year  to  live ; 
she  answered  :  "  Alas  !  must  I  remain  another  year  at  a 
distance   from    God?      O   sorrowful   year,   which   will 
appear  to  me  longer  than  an  age."     Such  is  the  language 
of  souls  who  love  God  from  their  heart.     It  is  a  mark 
of  little  love  of  God  not  to  desire  to  see  him  speedily. 

15.  Some  of  you  will  say :  I  desire  to  go  to  God,  but 
I  fear  death.     I  am  afraid  of  the  assaults  which  I  shall 
then  experience  from  hell.     I  find  that  the  saints  have 
trembled  at  the  hour  of  death ;  how  much  more  ought 
I  to  tremble  !     I  answer :  It  is  true  that  hell  doos  not 
cease  to  assail  even  the  saints  at  death,  but  it  is  also  true 
that  God  does  not  cease  to  assist  his  servants  at  that 
moment ;  and  when  the  dangers  are  increased,  ho  mul 
tiplies  his  helps.     "  Ibi  plus  auxilii,"  says  St.  Ambrose, 
"  ubi  plus  periculi."  (ad  Jos.  cap.  v.)     The  servant  of 
Eliseus  was  struck  with  terror  when  he  saw  the  city 
surrounded  by  enemies ;  but  the  saint  inspired  him  with 
courage  by  showing  to  him  a  multitude  of  angels  sent 
by  God  to  defend  it.      Hence  the  prophet  afterwards 
said  :  "  Fear  not,  for  there  are  more  with  us  than  with 
them."  (4  Kings  vi.  16.)     The  powers  of  hell  will  assail 
the  dying  Christian ;  but  his  angel  guardian  will  come 
to  console  him.     His  patrons,  and  St.  Michael,  who  has 
been  appointed  by  God  to  defend  his  faithful  servants 


DEATH    OF    THE    JUST.  91 


in  their  last  combat  with  the  devils,  will  come  to  his  aid. 
The  mother  of  God  will  come  to  assist  those  who  have 
been  devoted  to  her.  Jesus  Christ  shall  come  to  defend 
from  the  assaults  of  hell  the  souls  for  which  he  died  on 
a  cross :  he  will  give  them  confidence  and  strength  to 
resist  every  attack.  Hence,  filled  with  courage,  they 
will  say:  "The  Lord  is  my  light  and  my  salvation: 
whom  shall  I  fear?"  (Isa.  xxvi.  I.)  Truly  has  Origen 
said,  that  the  Lord  is  more  desirous  of  our  salvation 
than  the  devil  is  of  our  perdition,  because  God's  love 
for  us  far  surpasses  the  devil's  hatred  of  our  souls. 
"  Major  ilia  cura  est,  ut  nos  ad  veram  pertrahat  salutem, 
quam  diabolo,  ut  nos  ad  a3ternam  damnationem  impellat." 
(Horn,  xx.) 

16.  God  is  faithful,  he  will  never  permit  us  to  be 
tempted  above  our  strength  :  "  Fidelis  Deus  non  patietur 
vos  tentari  supra  id  quod  potestis."  (1  Cor.  x.  13.)    It  is 
true  that  some  saints  have  suffered  great  fear  at  the 
hour  of  death  ;  but  they  have  been  few.     The  Lord,  as 
Belluacensis  says,  has  permitted  this  fear  to  cleanse  them 
at  death  from  some  defect.     "  Justi  quandoque   dure 
moriendo  purgantur  in  hoc  mundo."     But  we  know  that, 
generally  speaking,  the  saints  have  died  with  a  joyful 
countenance.     Father  Joseph  Scamacca,  a  man  of  a  holy 
life,  being  asked  if,  in  dying,  he  felt  confidence  in  God, 
answered :  Have  I  served  Mahomet,  that  I  should  now 
doubt  of  the  goodness  of  my  God,  or  of  his  wish  to  save 
me  ?     Ah !  the  Lord  knows  well  how  to  console  his 
servants  in  their  last  moments.     Even  in  the  midst  of 
the  agony  of  death,  he  infuses  into  their  souls  a  certain 
sweetness  and  a  certain  foretaste  of  that  happiness  which 
he  will  soon  bestow  upon  them.     As  they  who  die  in  sin 
begin  to  experience  from  the  bed  of  death  a  certain  fore 
taste  of  hell — certain  extraordinary  terrors,   remorses, 
and  fits  of  despair ;  so,  on  the  other  hand,  the  saints,  by 
the  fervent  acts  of  divine  love  which  they  then  make, 
and  by  the  confidence  and  the  desire  which  they  feel  of 
soon  seeing  God,  taste,  before  death,  that  peace  which 
they  shall  afterwards  fully  enjoy  in  heaven. 

17.  Father  Suarez  died  with  so  much  peace,  that  in 
his  last  moments  he  said  :  "  I  could  not  have  imagined 
that   death   was   so    sweet."      Being   advised    by  his 


92  SERMON  XT. 


physician  not  to  fix  his  thoughts  so  constantly  on  death, 
Cardinal  Baronius  said:  Is  it  lest  the  fear  of  death  should 
shorten  my  life  ?  I  fear  not ;  on  the  contrary,  I  love 
and  desiie  death.  Of  the  Cardinal  Bishop  of  Rochester, 
Saunders  relates,  that,  in  preparing  to  die  for  the  faith, 
he  put  on  his  best  clothes,  saying  that  ho  was  going  to 
a  nuptial  feast.  When  he  came  within  view  of  the 
place  of  execution,  he  threw  away  his  staff,  and  said : 
O  my  feet,  walk  fast ;  for  we  are  not  far  from  Paradise. 
"  Ite  pedes,  parum  a  paradiso  distamus."  Before  death, 
he  wished  to  recite  the  TE  DEUM,  in  thanksgiving  to 
God  for  permitting  him  to  die  for  the  holy  faith  ;  and, 
full  of  joy,  he  laid  his  head  on  the  block.  St.  Francis  of 
Assisium  began  to  sing  at  the  hour  of  death.  Brother 
Elias  said  to  him:  Father,  at  the  hour  of  death,  we  ought 
rather  to  weep  than  to  sing.  But,  replied  the  saint,  I 
cannot  abstain  from  singing  at  the  thought  of  soon  going 
to  enjoy  God.  A  nun  of  the  order  of  St.  Teresa,  in  her 
last  moments,  said  to  her  sisters  in  religion,  who  were  in 
tears:  O  God!  why  do  you  weep?  I  am  going  to 
possess  my  Jesus  ;  if  you  love  me,  weep  not,  but  rejoice 
with  me.  (Dis.  Parol.  i.  §  6.) 

18.  Father  Granada  relates,  that  a  certain  sportsman 
found  in  a  wood  a  solitary  singing  in  his  last  agony. 
How,  said  the  sportsman,  can  you  sing  in  such  a  state  ? 
The  hermit  replied:  Brother,  between  me  and  God  there 
is  nothing  but  the  wall  of  this  body.     I  now  see  that 
since  my  flesh  is  falling  in  pieces,  the  prison  shall  be 
destroyed,  and  I  shall  soon  go  to  see  God.     It  is  for 
this  reason  I  rejoice  and  sing.     Through  the  desire  of 
seeing  God,  St.  Ignatius,  martyr,  said,  that  if  the  wild 
beasts  should  spare  him,   he  would  provoke  them  to 
devour   him.       "Ego   vim   faciam,    ut   devorer."      St. 
Catherine  of  Genoa  was  astonished  that  some  persons 
regarded  death  as  a  misfortune,  and  said  :   "  O  beloved 
death,  in  what  a  mistaken  light  do  men  view  you  !     Why 
do  you  not  come  to  me  ?     1  call  on  you  day  and  ni^ht  " 
(Yita,  c.  7.) 

19.  Oh !  how  peculiarly  happy  is  the  death  of  the 
servants  of  Mary  !     Father  Binetti  relates,  that  a  person 
whom  he  assisted  in  his  last  moments,  and  who  was 
devoted  to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  said  to  him :  "  Father, 


IMPORTANCE    OF    SALVATION. 


93 


you  cannot  conceive  the  consolation  which  arises  at 
death  from  the  remembrance  of  having  served  Mary. 
Ah  !  my  father,  if  you  knew  what  happiness  I  feel  on 
account  of  having  served  this  good  mother !  I  cannot 
express  it."  What  joy  shall  the  lovers  of  Jesus  Christ 
experience  at  his  coming  to  them  in  the  most  holy 
viaticum !  Happy  the  soul  that  can  then  address  her 
Saviour  in  the  words  which  St.  Philip  Neri  used  when 
the  viaticum  was  brought  to  him  :  "  Behold  my  love  ! 
behold  my  love  !  give  me  my  love  !"  But,  to  entertain 
these  sentiments  at  death,  we  must  have  ardently  loved 
Jesus  Christ  during  life. 


SERMON  XII.— SEPTUAGESIMA  SUNDAY. 

On  the  importance  of  salvation. 

"  He  sent  them  into  his  vineyard."— MATTHEW  xx.  2 

THE  vines  of  the  Lord  are  our  souls,  which  he  has  given 
us  to  cultivate  by  good  works,  that  we  may  be  one  day 
admitted  into  eternal  glory.  "How,"  says  Salvian, 
"  does  it  happen  that  a  Christian  believes,  and  still  docs 
not  fear  the  future?"  Christians  believe  death,  judg 
ment,  hell,  and  Paradise:  but  they  live  as  if  they 
believed  them  not— as  if  these  truths  of  faith  were  tables 
or  the  inventions  of  human  genius.  Many  live  as  it 
they  were  never  to  die,  or  as  if  they  had  not  to  give 
God  an  account  of  their  life— as  if  there  were  neither^ 
hell  nor  a  heaven.  Perhaps  they  do  not  believe  in 
them?  They  believe,  but  do  not  reflect  on  them ;  and 
thus  they  are  lost.  They  take  all  possible  care  of  worldly 
affairs,  but  attend  not  to  the  salvation  of  their  souls.  1 
shall  show  you,  this  day,  that  the  salvation  of  your  souls 
is  the  most  important  of  all  affairs. 

First  Point.— Because,  if  the  soul  is  lost,  all  is  lost 
Second  Point.— Because,  if  the  soul  is  lost  once,  it  is 
lost  for  ever. 

First  Point.— If  the  soul  is  lost,  all  is  lost. 


SERMON    XI T. 


1.  "But,"  says  St.  Paul,  "we  entreat  you  ....  that 
you  do  your  own  business."  (1  Thess.  iv.  10,  11.)     The 
greater  part  of  worldlings   are  most  attentive  to  the 
business  of  this  world.      What  diligence  do  they  not 
employ  to  gain  a  law-suit   or  a   post  of  emolument ! 
How  many  means  are  adopted — how  many  measures 
taken?     They  neither  eat  nor  sleep.     And  what  efforts 
do  they  make  to  save  their  souls  ?     All  blush  at  being 
told  that  they  neglect  the  affairs  of  their  families  ;  and 
how  few  are  ashamed  to  neglect  the  salvation  of  their 
souls.     "  Brethren,"  says  St.  Paul,  « I  entreat  you  that 
you  do  your  own  business  ;"  that  is,  the  business  of  your 
eternal  salvation. 

2.  "JSTugcc  puerorum,"  says   St.    Bernard,    "  nuga) 
vocantur,    nuga)    malorum    negotia    vocantur."      The 
trifles  of  children  ^  are  called  trifles,  but  the  trifles  of 
men  are  called  business ;  and  for  these  many  lose  their 
souls.     If  in  one  worldly  transaction  you  suffer  a  loss, 
you  may  repair  it  in  another;  but  if  you  die  in  enmity 
with  God,  and  lose  your  soul,  how  can  you  repair  the 
loss  ?     "  What  exchange  can  a  man  give  for  his  soul:" 
(Matt.  xvi.  26.)     To  those  who  neglect  the  care  of  sal 
vation,  St.  Euterius  says  :  "  Quam  pretiosus  sis,  0  homo, 
si  Creatori  non  credis,  interroga  Redemptorem."  (Horn. 
ii.  in  Symb.)     If,  from  being  created  by  God  to  his  own 
image,  you  do  not  comprehend  the  value  of  your  soul, 
learn  it  from  Jesus  Christ,  who  has  redeemed  you  with 
his  own  blood.     "  You  were  not  redeemed  with  cor 
ruptible  things,  as  gold  or  silver, but  with  the 

precious  blood  of  Christ,  as  of  a  lamb  unspotted  and 
undefiled."  (1  Pet.  i.  18,  19.) 

3.  God,  then,  sets  so  high  a  value  on  your  soul ; 
such  is  its  value  in  the  estimatien  of  Satan,  that,  to 
become  master  of  it,  he  does  not  sleep  night  or  day, 
but  is  continually  going  about  to  make  it  his  own. 
Hence  St.  Augustine  exclaims :  "  The  enemy  sleeps  not, 
and  you  are  asleep."  The  enemy  is  always  awake  to 
injure  you,  and  you  slumber.  Pope  Benedict  the 
Twelfth,  being  asked  by  a  prince  for  a  favour  which 
he  could  not  conscientiously  grant,  said  to  the  ambas 
sador  :  Tell  the  prince,  that,  if  I  had  two  souls,  I  might 
be  able  to  lose  one  of  them  in  order  to  please  him  ; 


TMP011TAXCE    OF    SALVATION.  95 

but,  since  I  have  but  one,  I  cannot  consent  to  lose  it. 
Thus  lie  refused  the  favour  which  the  prince  sought 
from  him. 

4.  Brethren,  remember  that,  if  you  save  your  souls, 
your  failure  in  every  worldly  transaction  will  be  but  of 
little  importance  :  for,  if  you  are  saved,  you  shall  enjoy 
complete  happiness  for  all  eternity.     But,  if  you  lose 
your  _  souls,  what  will  it  profit  you  to  have  enjoyed  all 
the  riches,  honours,  and  amusements  of  this  world  ?     If 
you  lose  your  souls,  all  is  lost.     "  What  doth  it  profit 
a  man,  if  he  gain  the  whole  world,  and  suffer  the  loss 
of  his_own  soul  ?"  (Matt.  xvi.  26.)     By  this  maxim  St. 
Ignatius  of  Loyola  drew  many  souls  to  God,  and  among 
them  the  soul  of  St.  Francis  Xavier,  who  was  then 
at  Paris,  and  devoted  his  attention  to  the  acquirement 
of  worldly  goods.     One  day  St,  Ignatius  said  to  him  : 
"  Francis,  whom  do  you  serve  ?     You  serve  the  world, 
which  is  a  traitor,  that  promises,  but  does  not  perform. 
And  if  it  should  fulfil  all  its  promises,  how  long  do 
its  goods  last  ?     Can  they  last  longer  than  this  life  ? 
And,  after  death,  what  will  they  profit  you,  if  you  shall 
not  have  saved  your  soul  ?"     He  then  reminded  Francis 
of  the  maxims  of  the  Gospel:    "What  doth  it  profit 
a  man,  if  he  gain  the  whole  world,  and  suffer  the  loss 
of  his  own  soul  ?"      "  But  one  thing  is   necessary  ?" 
(Luke  x.  42.)     It  is  not  necessary  to  become  rich  on 
this  earth — to  acquire  honours  and  dignities ;  but  it  is 
necessary  to  save  our  souls ;    because,  unless  we  gain 
heaven  we  shall  be  condemned  to  hell:    there  is  no 
middle  place :    we  must  be  either   saved   or  damned. 
God  has  not  created  us  for  this  earth ;  neither  does  he 
preserve  our  lives  that  we  may  become  rich  and  enjoy 
amusements.     "And  the  end  life  everlasting."  (Horn, 
vi.  22.)     He  has  created  us,  and  preserved  us,  that  we 
may  acquire  eternal  glory. 

5.  St.  Philip  Neri  used  to  say,  that  he  who  does  not 
seek,  above  all  _  things,  the  salvation  of  his  soul,  is  a 
fool.     If  on  this  earth  there  were  two  classes  of  men, 
one  mortal,  and  the  other  immortal,  and  if  the  former 
saw  the  latter  entirely  devoted  to  the  acquisition    of 
earthly  goods,  would  they  not  exclaim  :  O  fools  that 
you  are !     You  have  it  in  your  power  to  secure  the 


96  SERMON    XII. 


immense  and  eternal  goods  of  Paradise,  and  you  lose 
your  time  in  procuring  the  miserable  goods  of  this  earth, 
which  shall  end  at  death.  And  for  these  you  expose 
yourselves  to  the  danger  of  the  eternal  torments  of  hell. 
Leave  to  us,  for  whom  all  shall  end  at  death,  the  care 
of  these  earthly  things.  But,  brethren,  we  are  all 
immortal,  and  each  of  us  shall  be  eternally  happy  or 
eternally  miserable  in  the  other  life.  But  the  misfor 
tune  of  the  greater  part  of  mankind  is,  that  they  are 
solicitous  about  the  present,  and  never  think  of  the, 
future.  "  Oh  !  that  they  would  be  wise,  and  would 
understand,  and  would  provide  for  their  last  end." 
(Deut.  xxxii.  29.)  Oh  !  that  they  knew  how  to  detach 
themselves  from  present  goods,  which  last  but  a  short 
time,  and  to  provide  for  what  must  happen  after  death 
—an  eternal  reign  in  heaven,  or  everlasting  slavery  in 
hell.  St.  Philip  Neri,  conversing  one  day  with  Francis 
Zazzera,  a  young  man  of  talent  who  expected  to  make 
a  fortune  in  the  world,  said  to  him  :  "  You  shall  realize 
a  great  fortune;  you  shall  be  a  prelate,  afterwards  a  car 
dinal,  and  in  the  end,  perhaps,  pope.  But  what  must 
follow?  what  must  follow?  Go,  my  son,  think  on  these 
words."  The  young  man  departed,  and  after  meditating 
on  the  words,  what  mustfolloiv?  ivhat  must  follow?  he 
renounced  his  worldly  prospects,  andgave  himself  entirely 
to  God;  and,  retiring  from  the  world,  he  entered  into  the 
congregation  of  St.  Philip,  and  died  a  holy  death. 

(3.  "  The  fashion  of  this  world  passeth  away."  (i  Cor. 
vii.  31.)  On  this  passage,  Cornelius  a  Lapide,  says,  that 
" the  world  is  as  it  were  a  stage."  The  present  life  is  a 
comedy,  which  passes  away.  Happy  the  man  who  acts 
his  part  well  in  this  comedy  by  saving  his  soul.  But  if 
he  shall  have  spent  his  life  in  the  acquisition  of  riches 
and  worldly  honours,  he  shall  justly  be  called  a  fool ; 
and  at  the  hour  of  death  he  shall  receive  the  reproach 
addressed  to  the  rich  man  in  the  gospel :  "  Fool,  this 
night  do  they  require  thy  soul  of  thee  ;  and^ whose  shall 
these  things  be  which  thou  hast  provided?"  (Luke  xii 
20.)  In  explaining  the  words  "  they  require/'  Toletus 
says,  that  the  Lord  has  given  us  our  souls  to  guard 
them  against  the  assaults  of  our  enemies ;  and  that  at 
death  the  angel  shall  come  to  require  them  of  us,  and 


IMPORTANCE    OF    SALVATION.  97 

shall  present  them  at  the  tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ.  But 
it  we  shall  have  lost  our  souls  by  attending  only  to  the 
acquisition  of  earthly  possessions,  these  shall  belong  to 
us  no  longer— they  shall  pass  to  other  hands:  and  what 
shall  then  become  of  our  souls  ? 

7.  Poor  worldlings  !    of  all   the   riches   which   they 
acquired,  of  all  the  pomps  which  they  displayed  in  this 
life,  what  shall  they  find  at  death  ?     «'  They  have  slept 
their   sleep :    and   all  the   men   of  riches   have   found 
nothing  in  their  hands."  (Ps.  Ixxv.  6.)     The  dream  of 
this  present  life  shall  be  over  at  death,  and  they  shall 
have  acquired  nothing  for  eternity.     Ask  of  so  many 
great  men  of  this  earth— of  the  princes  and  emperors, 
who,  during  life,  have  abounded  in  riches,  honours,  and 
pleasures,  and  are  at  this  moment  in  hell— what  now 
remains  of  all  the  riches  which  they  possessed  in  this 
world  ?     They  answer  with  tears:  "  Nothing,  nothing.'-1 
And  of  so  many  honours  enjoyed — of  so  many  past  plea 
sures—of  so  many  pomps  and  triumphs,  what  now  re 
mains  ?  They  answer  with  howling  :  "  Nothing,  nothing." 

8.  Justly,  then,  has  St.  Francis  Xavier  said,  that  in 
the  world  there  is  but  one  good  and  one  evil.     The 
former  consists  in  saving  our  souls  ;  the  latter  in  losing 
them.     Hence,  David  said:  "  One  thing  I  have  asked  of 
the  Lord ;  this  I  will  seek  after— that  I  may  dwell  in 
the  house  of  the  Lord."  (Ps.  xxvi.  4.)     One  thing  only 
have  I  sought,  and  will  for  ever  seek,  from  God— that 
he  may  grant  me  the  grace  to  save  my  soul ;  for,  if  I 
save  my  soul,  all  is  safe  ;  if  I  lose  it,  all  is  lost.     And, 
what  is  more  important,  if  my  soul  be  once  lost,  it  is  lost 
for  ever.     Let  us  pass  to  the  second  point. 

Second  Point.  If  the  soul  be  once  lost,  it  is  lost  for  ever. 

9.  Men  die  but  once.     If  a  Christian  died  twice,  he 
might  lose  his  soul  the  first,  and  save  it  the  second  time. 
But  we  can  die  only  once  :  if  the  soul  be  lost  the  first 
time,  it  is  lost  for  ever.     This  truth  St.  Teresa  frequently 
inculcated  to  her  nuns:  "One  soul,"  she  would  say,  "one 
eternity."     As  if  she  said :  We  have  but  one  soul :  if 
this  be  lost,  all  is  lost.     There  is  but "  one  eternity  ;"  if  the 
soul  be  once  lost,  it  is  lost  for  ever.     "  Periisse  semel 
seternum  est." 


98 


SERMON    XII. 


10.  St.  Eucherius  says  that  there  is  no  error  so  great 
as  the  neglect  of  eternal  salvation.     "  Sane  supra  omnem 
errorem  est  dissimulare  negotium  aeternoe  salutis."     It  is 
an  error  which  surpasses  all  errors,  hecause  it  is  irreme 
diable.     Other  mistakes  may  be  repaired :  if  a  person 
loses  property  in  one  way,  he  may  acquire  it  in  another ; 
if  he  loses  a  situation,  a  dignity,  he  may  afterwards  re 
cover  them  ;  if  he  even  loses  his  life,  provided  his  soul 
be  saved,  all  is  safe.     But  he  who  loses  his  soul  has  no 
means  of  repairing  the  loss.     The  wailing  of  the  damned 
arises  from  the  thought,  that  for  them  the  time  of  salva 
tion  is  over,  and  that  there  is  no  hope  of  remedy  for  their 
eternal  ruin.     "  The  summer  is  ended,  and  we  are  not 
saved."  (Jer.  viii.  20.)     Hence  they  weep,    and   shall 
inconsolably  weep  for  ever,  saying:  "  Therefore  we  have 
erred  from  the  way  of  truth,  and  the  light  of  justice  hath 
not  shined  unto  us."  (Wis.   v.   6.)     But  what  will   it 
profit  them  to  know  the  error  they  have  committed, 
when  it  will  be  too  late  to  repair  it  ? 

11.  The  greatest  torment  of  the  damned  arises  from 
the  thought  of  having  lost  their  souls,  and  of  having 
lost  them  through  their  own  fault.     "  Destruction  is  thy 
own,  O  Israel ;  thy  help  is  only  from  me."  (Osee  xiii.  9.) 
O  miserable  being !  God  says  to  each  of  the  damned  ; 
thy  perdition  is  thine  own  ;  that  is  from  thyself ;  by  sin 
thou  hast  been  the  cause  of  thy  damnation ;  for  I  was 
ready  to  save  thee  if  thou  hadst  wished  to  attend  to  thy 
salvation.     St.  Teresa  used  to  say,  that  when  a  person 
loses  a  trifle  through  negligence,  his  peace  is  disturbed 
by  the  thought  of  having  lost  it  through  his  own  fault. 
O  God !  what  shall  be  the  pain  which  each  of  the  damned 
shall  feel  on  entering  into  hell,  at  the  thought  of  having 
lost  his  soul — his  all — and  of  having  lost  them  through 
his  own  fault ! 

12.  "We  must,  then,  from  this  day  forward,  devote  all 
our  attention  to  the  salvation  of  our  souls.     There  is  no 
question,   says   St.   John   Chrysostom,   of  losing  some 
earthly  good  which  we  must  one  day  relinquish.     But 
there  is  question  of  losing  Paradise,  and  of  going  to 
suffer  for  ever  in  hell :   "  De  immortalibus  suppliciis, 
de  coalestis  regni  amissione  res  agitur."     We  must  fear 
and  tremble  ;  it  is  thus  we  shall  be  able  to  secure  eternal 


UNHAPPY    LIFE    OF    SINNERS.  99 

happiness.  "  With  fear  and  trembling  work  out  your 
salvation.5'  (Phil.  ii.  12.)  Hence,  if  we  wish  to  save  our 
souls,^  we  must  labour  strenuously  to  avoid  dangerous 
occasions,  to  resist  temptations,  and  to  frequent  the 
sacraments.  Without  labour  we  cannot  obtain  heaven. 
'  The  violent  bear  it  away."  The  saints  tremble  at  the 
thought  of  eternity.  St.  Andrew  Avellino  exclaimed 
with  tears :  Who  knows  whether  I  shall  be  saved  or 
damned  ?  St.  Lewis  Bertrand  said  with  trembling  : 
What  shall  be  my  lot  in  the  other  world  ?  And  shall 
we  not  tremble  ?  Let  us  pray  to  Jesus  Christ  and  his 
most  holy  mother  to  help  us  to  save  our  souls.  This  is 
for  us  the  most  important  of  all  affairs  :  if  we  succeed  in 
it,  we  shall  be  eternally  happy ;  if  we  fail,  we  must  be 
for  ever  miserable. 


SERMON  XIIL-SEXAGESIMA  SUNDAY. 

On  the  unhappy  life  of  sinners,  and  on  the  happy  life  of 
those  who  love  God. 

"  And  that  which  fell  among  the  thorns  are  they  who  have  heard, 
and,  going  their  way,  are  choked  with  the  cares  and  riches  of  this 
life,  and  yield  no  fruit." — LUKE  viii.  14. 

IN  the  parable  of  this  day's  gospel  we  are  told  that  part 
of  the  seed  which  the  sower  went  out  to  sow  fell  among 
thorns.  The  Saviour  has  declared  that  the  seed  repre 
sents  the  divine  word,  and  the  thorns  the  attachment  of 
men  to  earthly  riches  and  pleasures,  which  are  the  thorns 
that  prevent  the  fruit  of  the  word  of  God,  not  only  in 
the  future,  but  even  in  the  present  life.  0  misery  of 
poor  sinners  !  By  their  sins  they  not  only  condemn 
themselves  to  eternal  torments  in  the  next,  but  to  an 
unhappy  life  in  this  world.  This  is  what  I  intend  to 
demonstrate  in  the  following  discourse. 

First  Point.     The  unhappy  life  of  sinners. 
Second  Point.     Happy  life  of  those  who  love  God. 


100  SERMON   XIII. 


First  Point.     Unhappy  life  of  sinners. 

1.  The  devil  deceives  sinners,  and  makes  them  imagine 
that,  hy  indulging  their  sensual  appetites,  they  shall  lead 
a  life  of  happiness,  and  shall  enj  oy  peace.     But  there  is  no 
peace  for  those  who  offend  God.     "  There  is  no  peace  to 
the  wicked,  saith  the  Lord.''    (Isa.  xlviii.  22.)     God 
declares  that  all  his  enemies  have  led  a  life  of  misery, 
and  that  they  have  not  even  known  the  way  of  peace. 
"  Destruction  and  unhappiness  in  their  ways  :  and  the 
way  of  peace  they  have  not  known."  (Ps.  xiii.  3.) 

2.  Brute   animals  that  have  been  created  for  this 
world,  enjoy  peace  in  sensual  delights.     Give  to  a  dog 
a  bone,  and  he  is  perfectly  content ;  give  to  an  ox  a 
bundle  of  hay,  and  he  desires  nothing  more.     But  man, 
who  has  been  created  for  God,  to  love  God,  and  to  be 
united  to  him,  can  be  made  happy  only  by  God,  and 
not  by  the  world,  though  it  should  enrich  him  with  all 
its  goods.     What  are  worldly  goods  ?     They  may  be 
all  reduced   to   pleasures   of  sense,  to  riches,  and  to 
honours.     "  All  that  is  in  the  world,"  says  St.  John, 
"  is  the  concupiscence  of  the  flesh,"  or  sensual  delights, 
tl  and  the  concupiscence  of  the  eyes,"  or  riches,  "  and 
the  pride  of  life"— that  is,  earthly  honours.  (1  John  ii. 
16.)     St.  Bernard  says,  that  a  man  may  be  puffed  up  with 
earthly  goods,  but  can  never  be  made  content  or  happy 
by  them.     "  Inflari  potcst,  satiari,  non  potest."     And 
how  can  earth  and  wind  and  dung  satisfy  the  heart  of 
man  ?     In  his  comment  on  these  words  of  St.  Peter — 
"  Behold,  we  have  left  all  things"— the  same  saint  says, 
that  he  saw  in  the  world  different  classes  of  fools.     All 
had  a  great  desire  of  happiness.     Some,  such  as  the 
avaricious,  were  content  with  riches;  others, Ambitious 
of  honours  and  of  praise,   were   satisfied  with  wind; 
others,  seated  round  a  furnace,  swallowed  the   sparks 
that  were  thrown  from  it— these  were  the  passionate  and 
vindictive ;  others,  in  fine,  drank  fetid  water  from  a 
stagnant  pool — and  these  were  the  voluptuous  and  un 
chaste.     O  fools !  adds  the  saint,  do  you  not  perceive 
that  all  these  things,  from  which  you  seek  content,  do 
not  satisfy,  but,  on  the  contrary,  increase  the  cravings 
of  your  heart  ?     "  Haec  potius  famem  provocant,  quam 
extinguunt."     Of  this  we  have  a  striking  example  in 


UNHAPPY   LIFE   OF    SINNERS.  101 

Alexander  the  Great,  who,  after  having  conquered  half 
the  world,  burst  into  tears,  because  he  was  not  master 
of  the  whole  earth. 

3.  Many  expect  to  find  peace  in  accumulating  riches ; 
but  how  can  these  satisfy  their  desires  ?  "  Major 
pecunia,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  avaritire  fauces  non 
claudit,  sed  extendit."  A  large  quantity  of  money  does 
not  close,  but  rather  extends,  the  jaws  of  avarice  ; — that 
is,  the  enjoyment  of  riches  excites,  rather  than  satiates, 
the  desire  of  wealth.  "  Thou  wast  debased  even  to 
hell ;  thou  hast  been  wearied  in  the  multitude  of  thy 
ways  ;  yet  thou  saidst  not,  I  will  rest.  (Isa.  Ivii.  9,  10.) 
Poor  worldlings  !  they  labour  and  toil  to  acquire  an 
increase  of  wealth  and  property,  but  never  enjoy 
repose :  the  more  they  accumulate  riches,  the  greater 
their  disquietude  and  vexation.  "  The  rich  have 
wanted,  and  have  suffered  hunger ;  but  they  that  seek 
the  Lord  shall  not  be  deprived  of  any  good/'  (Ps. 
xxxiii.  11.)  The  rich  of  this  world  are,  of  all  men,  the 
most  miserable ;  because,  the  more  they  possess,  the 
more  they  desire  to  possess.  They  never  succeed  in 
attaining  all  the  objects  of  their  wishes,  and  therefore 
they  are  far  poorer  than  men  who  have  but  a  com 
petency,  and  seek  God  alone.  These  are  truly  rich, 
because  they  are  content  with  their  condition,  and  find 
in  God  every  good.  "  They  that  seek  the  Lord  shall 
not  be  deprived  of  any  good."  To  the  saints,  because 
they  possess  God,  nothing  is  wanting ;  to  the  worldly 
rich,  who  are  deprived  of  God,  all  things  are  wanting, 
because  they  want  peace.  The  appellation  of  tool  was, 
therefore,  justly  given  to  the  rich  man  in  the  gospel 
(Luke  xii.  19),  who,  because  his  land  brought  forth 
plenty  of  fruits,  said  to  his  soul :  "  Soul,  thou  hast  much 
goods  laid  up  for  many  years :  take  rest,  eat,  drink, 
make  good  cheer."  (Luke  xii.  19.)  But  this  man  was 
called  a  fool.  "  Thou  fool,  this  night  do  they  require 
thy  soul  of  thee  ;  and  whose  shall  those  things  be  which 
thou  hast  provided  ?"  (v.  20.)  And  why  was  he  called 
a  fool.  Because  he  imagined  that  by  these  goods — by 
eating  and  drinking — he  should  be  content,  and  should 
enjoy  peace.  "Rest,"  he  said,  "  eat,  drink."  "Num- 
quid,  says  St.  Basil  of  Seleucia,  "animam  porcinam 


102  SERMON    XIII. 


habes  ?"     Hast  thou  the  soul  of  a  brute,  that  thou  ex- 
pectest  to  make  it  happy  by  eating  and  drinking  ? 

4.  But,  perhaps  sinners  who  seek  after  and  attain 
worldly  honours  are  content  ?     All  the  honours  of  this 
earth  are  but  smoke  and  wind  ("  Ephraim  feedeth  on 
the  wind" — Osee  xii.  1),  and  how  can  these  content  the 
heart   of  a   Christian  ?     "  The   pride   of  them,"   says 
David,   "  ascendeth  continually."  (Ps.  Ixxiii.  23.)     The 
ambitious  are  not  satisfied  by  the  attainment  of  certain 
honours  :  their  ambition  and  pride  continually  increase ; 
and  thus  their  disquietude,  their  envy,  and  their  fears 
are  multiplied. 

5.  They  who  live  in  the  habit  of  sins  of  impurity, 
feed,  as  the  Prophet  Jeremiah  says,  on  dung.     "  Qui 
voluptuose  vescebantur,  amplexati  sunt  stercora."  (Thren. 
iv.  5.)     How  can  dung  content  or  give  peace  to  the 
soul  ?     Ah !  what  peace,  what  peace  can  sinners  at  a 
distance  from  God  enjoy  ?   They  may  possess  the  riches, 
honours,  and  delights  of  this  world  ;  but  they  never  shall 
have  peace.     No  ;  the  word  of  God  cannot  fail :  he  has 
declared  that  there  is  no  peace  for  his  enemies.    "  There 
is  no  peace  to  the  wicked,  saith  the  Lord/'    (Isaias, 
xlviii.  22.)     Poor  sinners !  they,  as  St.  Chrysostom  says, 
always  carry  about  with  them  their  own  executioner — 
that  is,  a  guilty  conscience,  which  continually  torments 
them.     "  Peccator  conscientiam  quasi  carnificem  circum- 
gestat."  (Serm.  x.  do  Laz.)     St.  Isidore  asserts,  that 
there  is  no  pain  more  excruciating  than  that  of  a  guilty 
conscience.     Hence  he  adds,  that  he  who  leads  a  good 
life   is   never   sad.     "  Nulla   poena  gravior  poena  con- 
scientiso  :  vis  nunquam  esse  tristis  ?  bene  vive."  (S.  Isid., 
lib.  2,  Solit.) 

6.  In  describing  the  deplorable  state  of  sinners,  the 
Holy  Ghost  compares  them,  to  a  sea  continually  tossed 
by  the  tempest.     "  The  wicked  are  like  the  raging  sea, 
which  cannot  rest."  (Isa.  Ivii.  20.)    Waves  come  and  go, 
but  they  are  all  waves  of  bitterness  and  rancour ;  for 
every  cross  and  contradiction  disturbs  and  agitates  the 
wicked.     If  a  person  at  a  ball  or  musical  exhibition, 
were  obliged  to  remain  suspended  by  a  cord  with  his 
head  downwards,  could  he  feel  happy  at  the  entertain 
ment  ?     Such  is  the  state  of  a  Christian  in  enmity  with 


UNHAPPY   LIFE    OF    SINNERS.  103 

God  :  his  soul  is  as  it  were  turned  upside  down  ;  instead 
of  being  united  with  God  and  detached  from  creatures, 
it  is  united  with  creatures  and  separated  from  God. 
But  creatures,  says  St.  Yincent  Ferrer,  are  without,  and 
do  not  enter  to  content  the  heart,  which  God  alone  can 
make  happy.  «'Non  intrant  ibi  ubi  est  sitis."  The 
sinner  is  like  a  man  parched  with  thirst,  and  standing  in 
the  middle  of  a  fountain:  because  the  waters  which 
surround  him  do  not  enter  to  satisfy  his  thirst,  he 
remains  in  the  midst  of  them  more  thirsty  than  before. 

7.  Speaking  of  the  unhappy  life  which  he  led  when 
he  was  in  a  state  of  sin,  David  said :  "  My  tears  have 
been  my  bread,  day  and  night,  whilst  it  is  said  to  me 
daily :  Where  is  thy  God  ?"  (Ps.  xli.  4.)  To  relieve 
himself,  he  went  to  his  villas,  to  his  gardens,  to  musical 
entertainments,  and  to  various  other  royal  amusements, 
but  they  all  said  to  him:  "David,  if  thou  expectest 
comfort  from  us,  thou  art  deceived.  "Where  is  thy  God? 
Go  and  seek  thy  God,  whom  thou  hast  lost ;  for  he 
alone  can  restore  thy  peace."  Hence  David  confessed 
that,  in  the  midst  of  his  princely  wealth,  he  enjoyed  no 
repose,  and  that  he  wept  night  and  day.  Let  us  now 
listen  to  his  son  Solomon,  who  acknowledged  that  he 
indulged  his  senses  in  whatsoever  they  desired.  "What 
soever  my  eyes  desired,  I  refused  them  not."  (Eccl.  ii. 
10.)  But,  after  all  his  sensual  enjoyments,  he  exclaimed: 
"  Vanity  of  vanities  :... behold  all  is  vanity  and  affliction 
of  spirit."  (Eccles.  i.  2  and  14.)  Mark!  he  declares 
that  all  the  pleasures  of  this  earth  are  not  only  vanity 
of  vanities,  but  also  affliction  of  spirit.  And  this  sinners 
well  know  from  experience  ;  for  sin  brings  with  it  the 
fear  of  divine  vengeance.  The  man  who  is  encompassed 
by  powerful  enemies  never  sleeps  in  peace  ;  and  can  the 
sinner,  who  has  God  for  an  enemy,  enjoy  tranquillity  ? 
"  Fear  to  them  that  work  evil."  (Prov.  x.  29.)  The 
Christian  who  commits  a  mortal  sin  feels  himself 
oppressed  with  fear — every  leaf  that  moves  excites 
terror.  "  The  sound  of  dread  is  always  in  his  ears." 
(Job  xv.  21.)  He  appears  to  be  always  flying  away, 
although  no  one  pursues  him.  "  The  wicked  man  fleeth 
when  no  man  pursueth."  (Prov.  xxviii.  1.)  He  shall 
be  persecuted,  not  by  men,  but  by  his  own  sin.  It  was 


104  SERMON    XIII. 


thus  with  Cain,  who,  after  having  killed  his  brother 
Abel,  was  seized  with  fear,  and  said  :  "  Every  one,  there 
fore,  that  findeth  me  shall  kill  me."  (Gen.  iv.  14.)  The 
Lord  assured  him  that  no  one  should  injure  him  :  "  The 
Lord  said  to  him  :  "  No ;  it  shall  not  be  so/'  (v.  15.) 
I3ut,  notwithstanding  this  assurance,  Cain,  pursued  by 
his  own  sins,  was,  as  the  Scripture  attests,  always  flying 
from  one  place  to  another  "  He  dwelt  a  fugitive  on  the 
earth."  (v.  16.) 

8.  Moreover,  sin  brings  with  it  remorse  of  conscience 
— that  cruel  worm  that  gnaws  incessantly,  and  never 
dies.     "  Their  worm  shall  not  die."  (Isa  Ixvi.  24.)     If 
the  sinner  goes  to  a  festival,  to  a  comedy,  to  a  banquet, 
his  conscience  continually  reproaches  him,  saying:   Un 
happy  man  !  you  have  lost  God ;  if  you  were  now  to 
die,  what  should  become  of  you  ?     The  torture  of  re 
morse  of  conscience,  even  in  the  present  life,  is  so  great 
that,  to  free  themselves  from  it,  some  persons  have  put 
an  end  to  their  lives      Judas,  through  despair,  hanged 
himself.     A  certain  man  who  had  killed  an  infant,  was 
so  much  tormented  with  remorse  that  he  could  not  rest. 
To  rid  himself  of  it  he  entered  into  a  monastery  ;  but 
finding  no  peace  even  there,  he  went  before  u  judge, 
acknowledged  his  crime,  and  got  himself  condemned  to 
death. 

9.  God  complains  of  the  injustice  of  sinners  in  leaving 
him,  who  is  the  fountain  of  all  consolation,  to  plunge 
themselves  into  fetid  and  broken  cisterns,  which  can 
give  no  peace.     "  For  my  people  have  done  two  evils  ; 
they  have  forsaken  me,  the  fountain  of  living  water,  and 
have  digged  to  themselves  cisterns — broken  cisterns — 
that  can  hold  no  water."  (Jer.  ii.  13.)     You  have,  the 
Lord  says  to  sinners,  refused  to  serve  me,  your  God,  in 
peace.      Unhappy   creatures !    you    shall    serve    your 
enemies  in  hunger,  and  thirst,  and  nakedness,  and  in 
want  of  every  kind.     "  Because  thou  didst  not  serve  the 
Lord  thy  God  with  joy  and  gladness,  ....  thou  shalt 
serve  thy  enemy  in  hunger,  and  thirst,  and  'nakedness, 
and  in  want  of  all  things."  (Deut.  xxviii.  47,  48.)     This 
is  what  sinners  experience  every  day.     What  do  not  the 
vindictive  endure  after  they  have  satisfied  their  revenge 
by  the  murder  of  an   enemy  ?  •  They  fly  continually 


UNHAPPY    LIFE    OF    SINNERS.  105 

from  the  relations  of  their  murdered  foe,  and  from  the 
minister  of  justice.  They  live  as  fugitives,  poor,  afflicted, 
and  abandoned  by  all.  What  do  not  the  voluptuous 
and  unchaste  suffer  in  order  to  gratify  their  wicked 
desires  ?  "What  do  not  the  avaricious  suffer  in  order  to 
acquire  the  possessions  of  others  ?  Ah  !  if  they  suffered 
for  God  what  they  suffer  for  sin,  they  would  lay  up  great 
treasures  for  eternity,  and  would  lead  a  life  of  peace  and 
happiness :  but,  by  living  in  sin,  they  lead  a  life  of 
misery  here,  to  lead  a  still  more  miserable  life  for  eter 
nity  hereafter.  Hence  they  weep  continually  in  hell, 
saying  :  "  We  wearied  ourselves  in  the  way  of  iniquity 
and  destruction,  and  have  walked  through  hard  ways." 
(Wis.  v.  7.)  We  have,  they  exclaim,  walked  through 
hard  ways,  through  paths  covered  with  thorns.  We 
wearied  ourselves  in  the  way  of  iniquity :  we  have 
laboured  hard  :  we  have  sweated  blood  :  we  have  led  a 
life  full  of  misery,  of  gall,  and  of  poison.  And  why  ? 
To  bring  ourselves  to  a  still  more  wretched  life  in  this 
pit  of  fire. 

Second  Point.     The  happy  life  of  those  who  love  God. 

10.  '*  Justice  and  peace  have  kissed."  (Ps.  Ixxxiv.  11.) 
Peace  resides  in  every  soul  in  which  justice   dwells. 
Hence  David  said :  "  Delight  in  the  Lord,  and  he  will 
give  thee  the  requests  of  thy  heart."  (Ps.  xxxvi.  4.)     To 
understand  this  text,  we  must  consider  that  worldlings 
seek  to  satisfy  the  desires  of  their  hearts  with  the  goods 
of  this  earth ;  but,  because  these  cannot  make  them 
happy,  their  hearts  continually  make  fresh  demands ; 
and,  how  much  soever  they  may  acquire  of  these  goods, 
they    are    not    content.      Hence    the    Prophet    says : 
"  Delight  in  the  Lord,  and  he  will  give  thee  the  requests 
of  thy  heart."     Give  up  creatures,  seek  your  delight  in 
God,  and  he  will  satisfy  all  the  cravings  of  your  heart. 

11.  This  is  what  happened  to  St.  Augustine,  who,  as 
long  as  he  sought  happiness  in  creatures,  never  enjoyed 
peace ;  but,  as  soon  as  he  renounced  them,  and  gave  to 
God  all  the  affections  of  his  heart,  he  exclaimed  :  "  All 
things  are  hard,  O  Lord,  and  thou  alone  art  repose."  As 
if  he  said  :  Ah  !  Lord,  I  now  know  my  folly.  I  expected 
to  find  felicity  in  earthly  pleasures ;  but  now  I  know 


106  SERMON    XIII. 


that  they  are  only  vanity  and  affliction  of  spirit,  and  that 
thou  alone  art  the  peace  and  joy  of  our  hearts. 

12.  The  Apostle  says,  that  the  peace  which  God  gives 
to  those  who  love,  surpasses  all  the  sensual  delights 
which  a  man  can  enjoy  on  this  earth.     "  The  peace  of 
God,  which  surpasseth  all  understanding.''  (Phil.  iv.  7.) 
St.  Francis  of  Assisium,  in  saying  "  My  God  and  my  all," 
experienced  on  this  earth  an  anticipation  of  Paradise. 
St.  Francis  Xavier,  in  the  midst  of  his  labours  in  India 
for  the  glory  of  Jesus  Christ,  was  so  replenished  with 
divine  consolations,    that   he   exclaimed:  "Enough,  0 
Lord,  enough."     Where,  I  ask,  has  any  lover  of  this 
world  been  found,  so  satisfied  with  the  possessions  of 
worldly  goods,  as  to  say :  Enough,  O  world,  enough  ;  no 
more  riches,  no  more  honours,  no  more  applause,  no 
more   pleasures  ?     Ah,   no  !  worldlings   are  constantly 
seeking  after  higher  honours,  greater  riches,  and  new 
delights ;  but  the  more  they  have  of  them,  the  less  are 
their  desires  satisfied,  and  the  greater  their  disquietude. 

13.  It  is  necessary  to  persuade  ourselves  of  this  truth, 
that  God  alone  can  give  content.     "Worldlings  do  not 
wish  to  be  convinced  of  it,  through  an  apprehension 
that,  if  they  give  themselves  to  God,  they  shall  lead  a 
life  of  bitterness  and  discontent.     But,  with  the  Royal 
Prophet,  I  say  to  them  :  "  0  taste,  and  see  that  the  Lord 
is  sweet."  (Ps.  xxxiii.  9.)     Why,  0  sinners,  will  you  de 
spise  and  regard  as  miserable  that  life  which  you  have 
not  as  yet  tried  ?     "  0  taste  and  see."     Begin  to  make 
a  trial  of  it ;  hear  Mass  every  day ;    practise  mental 
prayer  and  the  visitation  of  the  most  holy  sacrament ; 
go  to  communion  at  least  once  a  week ;  fly  from  evil 
conversations  ;  walk  always  with  God ;  and  you  shall 
see  that,  by  such  a  life,  you  will  enjoy  that  sweetness 
and  peace  which  the  world,  with  all  its  delights,  has  not 
hitherto  been  able  to  give  you. 


DELUSIONS   OF    SINNERS.  107 

SERMON  XIY.— QUINQUAGESIMA  SUNDAY. 

Delusions  of  sinners. 

"Lord,  that  I  may  see." — LUKE  xviii.  41. 

1.  THE  Devil  brings  sinners  to  hell  by  closing  their  eyes 
to  the  dangers  of  perdition.  He  first  blinds  them,  and 
then  leads  them  with  himself  to  eternal  torments.  If, 
then,  we  wish  to  be  saved,  we  must  continually  pray  to 
God  in  the  words  of  the  blind  man  in  the  gospel  of  this 
day,  "  Lord,  that  I  may  see."  Give  me  light:  make  me 
see  the  way  in  which  I  must  walk  in  order  to  save  my 
soul,  and  to  escape  the  deceits  of  the  enemy  of  salvation. 
I  shall,  brethren,  this  day  place  before  your  eyes  the 
delusion  by  which  the  devil  tempts  men  to  sin  and  to 
persevere  in  sin,  that  you  may  know  how  to  guard 
yourselves  against  his  deceitful  artifices. 

2.  To  understand  these  delusions  better,  let  us  imagine 
the  case  of  a  young  man  who,  seized  by  some  passion, 
lives  in  sin,  the  slave  of  Satan,  and  never  thinks  of  his 
eternal  salvation.  My  son,  I  say  to  him,  what  sort  of 
life  do  you  lead  ?  If  you  continue  to  live  in  this  manner, 
how  will  you  be  able  to  save  your  soul  ?  But,  behold  ! 
the  devil,  on  the  other  hand,  says  to  him:  Why  should 
you  be  afraid  of  being  lost  ?  Indulge  your  passions  for 
the  present:  you  will  afterwards  confess  your  sins,  and 
thus  all  shall  be  remedied.  Behold  the  net  by  which 
the  devil  drags  so  many  souls  into  hell.  "  Indulge  your 
passions  :  you  will  hereafter  make  a  good  confession." 
But,  in  reply,  I  say,  that  in  the  meantime  you  lose  your 
soul.  Tell  me  :  if  you  had  a  jewel  worth  a  thousand 
pounds,  would  you  throw  it  into  a  river  with  the  hope 
of  afterwards  finding  it  again  ?  What  if  all  your  efforts 
to  find  it  were  fruitless  ?  0  God  !  you  hold  in  your 
hand  the  invaluable  jewel  of  your  soul,  which  Jesus 
Christ  has  purchased  with  his  own  blood,  and  you  cast 
it  into  hell !  Yes  ;  you  cast  it  into  hell ;  because  accord 
ing  to  the  present  order  of  providence,  for  every  mortal 
sin  you  commit,  your  name  is  written  among  the  num 
ber  of  the  damned.  But  you  say  .  "  I  hope  to  recover 


103  SERMON*    XIV. 


God's  grace  by  making  a  good  confession."  And  if  you 
should  not  recover  it,  what  shall  be  the  consequences  ? 
To  make  a  good  confession,  a  true  sorrow  for  sin  is 
necessary,  and  this  sorrow  is  the  gift  of  God  :  if  he  does 
not  give  it,  will  you  not  be  lost  for  ever  ? 

3.  You  rejoin  :  "  I  am  young;  God  compassionates  my 
youth ;  I  will  hereafter  give  myself  to  God."     Behold 
another  delusion  !     You   are  young ;  but  do   you  not 
know  that  God  counts,  not  the  years,  but  the  sins  of  each 
individual  ?     You  are  young ;  but  how  many  sins  have 
you  committed  ?     Perhaps  there  are  many  persons  of  a 
very  advanced  age,  who  have  not  been  guilty  of  the 
fourth  part  of  the  sins  which  you  have  committed.    And 
do  you  not  know  that  God  has  fixed  for  each  of  us  the 
number  of  sins  which  he  will  pardon  ?     "  The  Lord 
patiently  expecteth,  that,  when  the  day  of  judgment 
shall  come,  he  may  punish  them  in  the  fulness  of  their 
sins."  (2  Mach.  vi.  14.)    God  has  patience,  and  waits 
for  a  while  ;  but,  when  the  measure  of  the  sins  which  he 
has  determined  to  pardon  is  tilled  up,  he  pardons  no 
more,  but  chastises  the  sinner,  by  suddenly  depriving 
him  of  life  in  the  miserable  state  of  sin,  or  by  abandon 
ing  him  in  his  sin,  and  executing  that  threat  which  he 
made  by  the  prophet  Isaias — "  I  shall  take  away  the 
hedge  thereof,  and  it  shall  be  wasted."  (Isa.  v.  5.)    If  a 
person  has  cultivated  land  for  many  years,  has  encom 
passed  it  with  a  hedge  for  its  protection,  and  expended 
a  large  sum  of  money  on  it,  but  finds  that,  after  all,  it 
produces  no  fruit,  what  will  he  do  with  it  ?     He  will 
pluck  up  the  hedge,  and  abandon  it  to  all  men  and  beasts 
that  may  wish  to  enter.     Tremble,  then,  lest  God  should 
treat  you  in  a  similar  manner.     If  you  do  not  give  up  sin, 
your  remorse  of  conscience  and  your  fear  of  divine  chas 
tisement  shall  daily  increase.     Behold  the  hedge  taken 
away,  and  your  soul  abandoned  by  God — a  punishment 
worse  than  death  itself. 

4.  You  say:  "  I  cannot  at  present  resist  this  passion." 
Behold  the  third  delusion  of  the  devil,  by  which  he 
makes  you  believe  that  at  present  you  have  not  strength 
to  overcome  certain  temptations.  But  St.  Paul  tells  us 
that  God  is  faithful,  and  that  he  never  permits  us  to  be 
tempted  above  our  strength.  "And  God  is  faithful, 


DELUSIONS    OF    SINNERS. 


109 


who  will  not  permit  you  to  be  tempted  above  that  which 
you  are  able."   (1  Cor.  x.  13.)     I  ask,  if  you  are  not  now 
able  to  resist  the  temptation,  how  can  you  expect  to 
resist  it  hereafter  ?     If  you  yield  to  it,  the  Devil  will 
become  stronger,  and  you  shall  become  weaker  ;  and  if 
you  be  not  now  able  to  extinguish  this  flame  of  passion, 
how  can  you  hope  to  be  able  to  extinguish  it  when  it 
shall  have  grown  more  violent?     You  say:  "God  will 
give  me  his  aid."     But  this  aid  God  is  ready  to  give  at 
present  if  you  ask  it.     "Why  then  do  you  not  implore  his 
assistance  ?     Perhaps  you  expect  that,  without  now  tak 
ing  the  trouble  of  invoking  his  aid,  you  will  receive  from 
him  increased  helps  and  graces,  after  you  shall  have 
multiplied  the  number  of  your  sins  ?     Perhaps  you  doubt 
the  veracity  of  God,  who  has  promised  to  give  whatever 
we  ask  of  him  ?     "  Ask,"  he  says,  "  and  it  shall  be 
given  you."  (Matt.  vii.  7.)     God  cannot  violate  his  pro 
mises.     "  God  is  not  as  man,  that  he  should  lie,  nor  as 
the  son  of  man,  that  he  should  be  changed.     Hath  he 
said,  then,  and  will  he  not  do  ?"  (Num.  xxiii.  19.)    Have 
recourse  to  him,  and  he  will  give  you  the  strength  neces 
sary  to  resist  the  temptation.     God  commands  you  to 
resist  it,  and  you  say:  "  I  have  not  strength."     Does 
God,  then,  command  impossibilities  ?     No  ;  the  Council 
of  Trent  has  declared  that  "  God  does  not  command 
impossibilities;  but,  by  his  commands,  he  admonishes 
you  to  do  what  you  can,  and  to  ask  what  you  cannot  do  ; 
and  he  assists,  that  you  may  be  able  to  do  it."  (Seas.  6. 
c.  xiii.)     When  you  see  that  you  have  not  sufficient 
strength  to  resist  temptation  with  the  ordinary  assist 
ance  of  God,  ask  of  him  the  additional  help  which  you 
require,  and  he  will  give  it  to  you  ;  and  thus^  you  shall 
be  able  to  conquer  all  temptations,  however  violent  they 
may  be. 

5.  But  you  will  not  pray  ;  and  you  say  that  at  present 
you  will  commit  this  sin,  and  will  afterwards  confess  it. 
But,  I  ask,  how  do  you  know  that  God  will  give  you 
time  to  confess  it  ?  You  say:  "  I  will  go  to  confession 
before  the  lapse  of  a  week."  And  who  has  promised  you 
this  week  ?  Well,  then  you  say :  "  I  will  go  to  confession 
to-morrow."  And  who  promises  you  to-morrow  ?  '  ^ras- 
tinum  Deus  non  promisit,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  fortasse 


110  SERMON    XIV. 


dabit,  ct  fortasse  non  dabit."  God  has  not  promised  you 
to-morrow.  Perhaps  he  will  give  it,  and  perhaps  he 
will  refuse  it  to  you,  as  he  has  to  so  many  others.  How 
many  have  gone  to  bed  in  good  health,  and  have  been 
found  dead  in  the  morning  !  How  many,  in  the  very 
act  of  sin,  has  the  Lord  struck  dead  and  sent  to  hell ! 
Should  this  happen  to  you,  how  will  you  repair  your 
eternal  ruin  ?  "  Commit  this  sin,  and  confess  it  after 
wards."  Behold  the  deceitful  artifice  by  which  the  devil 
has  brought  so  many  thousands  of  Christians  to  hell. 
We  scarcely  ever  find  a  Christian  so  sunk  in  despair  as 
to  intend  to  damn  himself.  All  the  wicked  sin  with  the 
hope  of  afterwards  going  to  confession.  But,  by  this 
illusion,  how  many  have  brought  themselves  to  perdi 
tion  !  For  them  there  is  now  no  time  for  confession,  no 
remedy  for  their  damnation. 

6.  "  But  God  is  merciful."     Behold  another  common 
delusion  by  which  the  devil  encourages  sinners  to  perse 
vere  in  a 'life  of  sin!     A  certain  author  has  said,  that 
more  souls  have  been  sent  to  hell  by  the  mercy  of  God 
than  by  his  justice.     This  is  indeed  the  case  ;  for  men 
are  induced  by  the  deceits  of  the  devil  to  persevere  in 
sin,  through  confidence  in  God's  mercy  ;  and  thus  they 
are  lost.     "God  is  merciful."     Who  denies  it?     But, 
great  as  his  mercy,  how  many  does  he  every  day  send  to 
hell  ?     God  is  merciful,  but  he  is  also  just,  and  is,  there 
fore,  obliged  to  punish  those  who  offend  him.    "  And  his 
mercy,"  says  the  divine  mother,   "  to  them  that  fear 
him."  (Luke  i.   50.)     But  with  regard  to  those  who 
abuse  his  mercy  and  despise  him,  he  exercises  justice. 
The  Lord  pardons  sins,  but  he  cannot  pardon  the  deter 
mination  to  commit  sin.     St.  Augustine  says,  that  he 
who  sins  with  the  intention  of  repenting  after  his  sins, 
is  not  a  penitent  but  a  scoffer.     "  Irrisor  est  non  pceni- 
tens."     But  the  Apostle  tells  us  that  God  will  not  be 
mocked.     "  Be  not  deceived  ;  God  is  not  mocked."  (Gal. 
vi.  7.)     It  would  be  a  mockery  of  God  to  insult  him  as 
often  and  as  much  as  you  pleased,  and  afterwards  to 
expect  eternal  glory. 

7.  "  But,';  you  say,  "  as  God  has  shown  me  so  many 
miseries  hitherto,  I  hope  he  will  continue  to  do  so  for  the 
future."     Behold  another  delusion  !    Then,  because  God 


DELUSIONS    OF    SINNERS. 


Ill 


has  not  as  yet  chastised  your  sins,  he  will  never  punish 
them  !  On  the  contrary,  the  greater  have  been  his 
mercies,  the  more  you  should  tremble,  lest,  if  you  offend 
him  again,  he  should  pardon  you  no  more,  and  should 
take  vengeance  on  your  sins.  Behold  the  advice  of  the 
Holy  Ghost :  "  Say  not :  I  have  sinned,  and  what  harm 
hath  befallen  me  ?  for  the  Most  High  is  a  patient  re- 
warder."  (Eccles.  v.  4.)  Do  not  say  :  "  I  have  sinned, 
and  no  chastisement  has  fallen  upon  me."  God  bears  for 
a  time,  but  not  for  ever.  He  waits  for  a  certain  time  ; 
but  when  that  arrives,  he  then  chastises  the  sinner  for  all 
his  past  iniquities:  and  the  longer  he  has  waited  for 
repentance,  the  more  severe  the  chastisement.  "  Quos 
diutius  expectat,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  durius  damnat." 
Then,  my  brother,  since  you  know  that  you  have 
frequently  offended  God,  and  that  he  has  not  sent  you 
to  hell,  you  should  exclaim :  "  The  mercies  of  the  Lord, 
that  we  are  not  consumed."  (Thren.  iii.  22.)  Lord,  I 
thank  you  for  not  having  sent  me  to  hell,  which  I  have 
so  often  deserved.  And  therefore  you  ought  to  give 
yourself  entirely  to  God,  at  least  through  gratitude,  and 
should  consider  that,  for  less  sins  than  you  have  com 
mitted,  many  are  now  in  that  pit  of  fire,  without  the 
smallest  hope  of  being  ever  released  from  it.  The 
patience  of  God  in  bearing  with  you,  should  teach  you 
not  to  despise  him  still  more,  but  to  love  and  serve  him 
with  greater  fervour,  and  to  atone,  by  penitential  austeri 
ties  and  by  other  holy  works,  for  the  insults  you  have 
offered  to  him.  You  know  that  he  has  shown  mercies 
to  you,  which  he  has  not  shown  to  others.  "  He  hath 
not  done  in  like  manner  to  every  nation."  (Ps.  cxlvii. 
20.)  Hence  you  should  tremble,  lest,  if  you  commit  a 
single  additional  mortal  sin,  God  should  abandon  you, 
and  cast  you  into  hell. 

8.  Let  us  come  to  the  next  illusion.  "  It  is  true  that, 
by  this  sin,  I  lose  the  grace  of  God  ;  but,  even  after  com 
mitting  this  sin,  I  may  be  saved."  You  may,  indeed,  be 
saved :  but  it  cannot  be  denied  that  if,  after  having 
committed  so  many  sins,  and  after  having  received  so 
many  graces  from  God,  you  again  offend  him,  there  is 
great  reason  to  fear  that  you  shall  be  lost.  Attend  to 
the  words  of  the  sacred  Scripture :  "  A  hard  heart  shall 


SERMON    XV. 


fare  evil  at  the  last."  (Eccles.  iii.  27.)  The  obstinate 
sinner  shall  die  an  unhappy  death.  '  Evil  doers  shall 
be  cut  off."  (Ps.  xxxvi.  9.)  The  wicked  shall  be  cut  oil 
by  the  divine  justice.  "  For  what  things  a  man  shall 
sow,  those  also  shall  he  reap."  (Gal.  vi.  8.)  He  that  sows 
in  sin,  shall  reap  eternal  torments.  "  Because  I  called 
and  you  refused, I  also  will  laugh  in  your  destruc 
tion  and  will  mock  when  that  shall  come  to  you  which 
you  feared."  (Prov.  i.  24,  26.)  I  called,  says  the  Lord, 
and  you  mocked  me  ;  but  I  will  mock  you  at  the  hour 
of  death.  "  Revenge  is  mine,  and  I  will  repay  them  m 
dm  time."  (Dout.  xxxii.  35.)  The  chastisement  of  sins 
belongs  to  me,  and  I  will  execute  vengeance  on  them 
when  the  time  of  vengeance  shall  arrive.  :<  The  man 
that  with  a  stiff  neck  despiseth  him  that  reproveth  him, 
shall  suddenly  be  destroyed,  and  health  shall  not  follow 
him."  (Prov.  xxix.  1.)  The  man  who  obstinately  despises 
those  who  correct  him,  shall  be  punished  with  a  sudden 
death,  and  for  him  there  shall  be  no  hope  of  salvation. 

9.  Now,  brethren,  what  think  you  of  these  divine 
threats  against  sinners  ?  Is  it  easy,  or  is  it  not  very 
difficult,  to  save  your  souls,  if,  after  so  many  divine  calls, 
and  after  so  many  mercies,  you  continue  to  offend  God  ? 
You  say  :  "  But  after  all,  it  may  happen  that  I  will  save 
my  soul."  I  answer:  "What  folly  is  it  to  trust  your 
salvation  to  a  perhaps  ?"  How  many  with  this  "  per 
haps  I  may  be  saved,"  are  now  in  hell  ?  Do  you  wish 
to  be  one  of  their  unhappy  companions  ?  Dearly  beloved 
Christians,  enter  into  yourselves,  and  ^  tremble  ;  for  this 
sermon  may  be  the  last  of  God's  mercies  to  you. 


SERMON  XV.— FIRST  SUNDAY  OF  LENT. 

On  the  number  of  sins  beyond  which    God  pardons  no 
more. 

"  Thou  shalt  not  tempt  the  Lord  thy  God." — MATT.  iv.  7. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  read  that,  having  gone  into  the 
desert,  Jesus  Christ  permitted  the  devil  to  "  set  him  upon 


NUMBER  OF  SINS  WHICH  GOD  PARDONS.  113 

the  pinnacle  of  the  temple,"  and  say  to  him:  "If  thoube 
the  Son  of  God,  cast  thyself  down  ;"  for  the  angels  shall 
preserve  thee  from  all  injury.  But  the  Lord  answered 
that,  in  the  Sacred  Scriptures  it  is  written  :  "  Thou  shalt 
not  tempt  the  Lord  thy  God."  The  sinner  who  abandons 
himself  to  sin  without  striving  to  resist  temptations,  or 
without  at  least  asking  God's  help  to  conquer  them,  and 
hopes  that  the  Lord  will  one  day  draw  him  from  the 
precipice,  tempts  God  to  work  miracles,  or  rather  to  show 
to  him  an  extraordinary  mercy  not  extended  to  the 
generality  of  Christians.  God,  as  the  Apostle  says, 
"  will  have  all  men  to  be  saved,"  (1  Tim.  ii.  4)  ;  but  he 
also  wishes  us  all  to  labour  for  our  own  salvation,  at 
least  by  adopting  the  means  of  overcoming  our  enemies, 
and  of  obeying  him  when  he  calls  us  to  repentance. 
Sinners  hear  the  calls  of  God,  but  they  forget  them,  and 
continue  to  offend  him.  But  God  does  not  forget  them. 
He  numbers  the  graces  which  he  dispenses,  as  well  ^  as 
the  sins  which  we  commit.  Hence,  when  the  time  which 
he  has  fixed  arrives,  God  deprives  us  of  his  graces,  and 
begins  to  inflict  chastisement.  I  intend  to  show,  in  this 
discourse,  that,  when  sins  reach  a  certain  number,  God 
pardons  no  more.  Be  attentive, 

1.  St.  Basil,  St.  Jerome,  St.  John  Chrysostom,  St. 
Augustine,  and  other  fathers,  teach  that,  as  God  (accord 
ing  to  the  words  of  Scripture,  "  Thou  hast  ordered  all 
things  in  measure,  and  number,  and  weight "  (Wis.  xi. 
21),  has  fixed  for  each  person  the  number  of  the  days  of 
his  life,  and  the  degrees  of  health  and  talent  which  he 
will  give  him,  so  he  has  also  determined  for  each  the 
number  of  sins  which  he  will  pardon  ;  and  when  this 
number  is  completed,  he  will  pardon  no  more.     "  Illud 
sentire  nos   convenit,"    says   St.   Augustine,    "  tamdiu 
unumquemque  a  Dei  patientia  sustineri,  quo  consum 
mate  nullam  illi  veniam  reserveri."  (De  Vita  Christi, 
cap.  iii.)     Eusebius  of  Cesarea  says :  "  Deus^  expectat 
usque  ad  certum  numerum  et  postea  deserit."  (Lib.  8, 
cap.  ii.)     The  same  doctrine  is  taught  by  the  above- 
mentioned  fathers. 

2.  "  The  Lord  hath  sent  me  to  heal  the  contrite  of 
heart."  (Isa.  Ixi.  1.)     God  is  ready  to  heal  those  who 
sincerely  wish  to  amend  their  lives,  but  cannot  take 


114  SERMON   XV 


pity  on  the  obstinate  sinner  The  Lord  pardons  sins, 
but  he  cannot  pardon  those  who  are  determined  to 
offend  him.  Nor  can  we  demand  from  God  a  reason 
why  he  pardons  one  a  hundred  sins,  and  takes  others  out 
of  life,  and  sends  them  to  hell,  after  three  or  four  tans. 
By  his  Prophet  Amos,  God  has  said :  "  For  three  crimes 
of  Damascus,  and  for  four,  I  will  not  convert  it."  (i.  3.) 
In  this  we  must  adore  the  judgments  of  God,  and  say 
with  the  Apostle  :  "  0  the  depth  of  the  riches,  of  the 
wisdom,  and  of  the  knowledge  of  God  !  How  incom 
prehensible  are  his  judgments/'  (Rom.  xi.  33.)  He  who 
receives  pardon,  says  St.  Augustine,  is  pardoned  through 
the  pure  mercy  of  God  ;  and  they  who  are  chastised  are 
justly  punished.  "  Quibus  datur  misericordia,  gratis 
datur :  quibus  non  datur  ex  justitia  non  datur."  (1  de 
Corrept.)  How  many  has  God  sent  to  hell  for  the  first 
offence  ?  St.  Gregory  relates,  that  a  child  of  five  years, 
who  had  arrived  at  the  use  of  reason,  for  having  uttered 
a  blasphemy,  was  seized  by  the  devil  and  carried  to  hell. 
The  divine  mother  revealed  to  that  great  servant  of  God, 
Benedicta  of  Florence,  that  a  boy  of  twelve  years  was 
damned  after  the  first  sin.  Another  boy  of  eight  years 
died  after  his  first  sin  and  was  lost.  You  say  :  I  am 
young :  there  are  many  who  have  committed  more  sins 
than  I  have.  But  is  God  on  that  account  obliged  to 
wait  for  your  repentance  if  you  offend  him  ?  In  the 
gospel  of  St.  Matthew  (xxi.  19)  we  read,  that  the  Saviour 
cursed  a  fig  tree  the  first  time  he  saw  it  without  fruit. 
"  May  no  fruit  grow  on  thee  henceforward  for  ever. 
And  immediately  the  fig  tree  withered  away."  You 
must,  then,  tremble  at  the  thought  of  committing  a  single 
mortal  sin,  particularly  if  you  have  already  been  guilty 
of  mortal  sins. 

3.  "  Be  not  without  fear  about  sins  forgiven,  and 
add  not  sin  to  sin."  (Eccl.  v.  5.)  Say  not  then,  O  sinner; 
As  God  has  forgiven  me  other  sins,  so  he  will  pardon 
me  this  one  if  I  commit  it.  Say  not  this  ;  for,  if  to  the 
sin  which  has  been  forgiven  you  add  another,  you 
have  reason  to  fear  that  this  new  sin  shall  be  united  to 
your  former  guilt,  and  that  thus  the  number  will  be 
completed,  and  that  you  shall  be  abandoned.  Behold 
how  the  Scripture  unfolds  this  truth  more  clearly  in 


NUMBER  OF  SINS  WHICH  GOD  PARDONS. 


115 


another  place.  "  The  Lord  patiently  expecteth,  that 
when  the  day  of  judgment  shall  come,  he  may  punish 
them  in  the  fulness  of  sins."  (2  Mac.  vi.  14.)  God  waits 
with  patience  until  a  certain  number  of  sins  is  com 
mitted,  but,  when  the  measure  of  guilt  is  filled  up,  he 
waits  no  longer,  but  chastises  the  sinner.  "Thou  hast 
sealed  up  my  offences  as  it  were  in  a  bag."  (Job  xiv. 
17.)  Sinners  multiply  their  sins  without  keeping  any 
account  of  them  ;  but  God  numbers  them  that,  when  the 
harvest  is  ripe,  that  is,  when  the  number  of  sins  is  com 
pleted,  he  may  take  vengeance  on  them.  "  Put  ye  in 
the  sickles,  for  the  harvest  is  ripe."  (Joel  iii.  13.) 

4.  Of  this  there  are  many  examples  in  the  Scriptures. 
Speaking  of  the  Hebrews,  the  Lord  in  one  place  says  : 
"  All  the  men  that  have  tempted  me  now  ten  times.  . .  . 
shall  not  see  the  land/'  (Num.  xiv.  22,  23.)  In  another 
place  he  says,  that  he  restrained  his  vengeance  against 
the  Amorrhites,  because  the  number  of  their  sins  was 
not  completed.  "  For  as  yet  the  iniquities  of  the  Amorr 
hites  are  not  'j  the  full."  (Gen.  xv.  16.)  We  have 
again  the  example  of  Saul,  who,  after  having  disobeyed 
God  a  second  time,  was  abandoned.  He  entreated 
Samuel  to  interpose  before  the  Lord  in  his  behalf. 
"  Bear,  I  beseech  thee,  my  sin,  and  return  with  me, 
that  I  may  adore  the  Lord,"  (1  Kings  xv.  25.)  But, 
knowing  that  God  had  abandoned  Saul,  Samuel  answered: 
"  I  will  not  return  with  thee;  because  thou  hast  rejected 
the  word  of  the  Lord,  and  the  Lord  hath  rejected  thee," 
etc.  (v.  26.)  Saul,  you  have  abandoned  God,  and  he  has 
abandoned  you.  We  have  another  example  in  Balthassar, 
who,  after  having  profaned  the  vessels  of  the  temple, 
saw  a  hand  writing  on  the  wall,  "Mane,  Thecel,  Phares." 
Daniel  was  requested  to  expound  the  meaning  of  these 
words.  In  explaining  the  word  Thecel,  he  said  to  the 
king  :  6t  Thou  art  weighed  in  the  balance,  and  art  found 
wanting."  (Dan.  v  27.)  By  this  explanation  he  gave 
the  king  to  understand  that  the  weight  of  his  sins  in  the 
balance  of  divine  justice  had  made  the  scale  descend. 
"  The  same  night,  Balthassar,  the  Chaldean  king,  was 
killed."  (Dan.  v.  30.)  Oh !  how  many  sinners  have  met 
with  a  similar  fate  !  Continuing  to  offend  God  till  their 
sins  amounted  to  a  certain  number  they  have  been 


J16  SERMON    XV. 


struck  dead  and  sent  to  hell.  '  They  spend  their  days 
in  wealth,  and  in  a  moment  they  go  down  to  hell."  (Job 
xxi.  13.)  Tremble,  brethren,  lest,  if  you  commit  another 
mortal  sin,  God  should  cast  you  into  hell. 

5.  If  God  chastised  sinners  the  moment  they  insult 
him,  we  should  not  see  him  so  much ^  despised.     But, 
because  he  does  not  instantly  punish  their  transgressions, 
and  because,  through  mercy,  he  restrains  his  anger  and 
waits  for  their  return,  they  are  encouraged  to  continue 
to  offend  him.     "  For,  because  sentence  is  not  speedily 
pronounced  against  the  evil,  the  children  of  men  commit 
evil  without  any  fear."   (Eccles.   viii.   11.)     But  it  is 
necessary  to  be  persuaded  that,  though  God  bears  with 
us,  he  does  not  wait,  nor  bear  with  us  for  ever.     Expect 
ing,  as  on  former  occasions,  to  escape  from  the  snares  of 
the  Philistines,  Samson  continued  to  allow  himself  to  be 
deluded  by  Dalila.     "  I  will  go  out  as  I  did  before,  and 
shake  myself.''   (Judges  xvi.  '20.)     But  "  the  Lord  was 
departed  from  him."     Samson  was  at  length  taken  by 
liis  enemies,  and  lost  his  life.     The  Lord  warns  you  not 
to  say :  I  have  committed  so  many  sins,  and  God  has  not 
chastised  me      "  Say  not :  I  have  sinned,  and  what  harm 
hath  befallen  me  ?  for  the  Most  High  is  a  patient  re- 
warder."  (Eccl.  v.  4.)     God  has  patience  for  a  certain 
term,  after  which  he  punishes  the  first  and  last  sins. 
And  the  greater  has  been  his  patience,  the  more  severe 
his  vengeance 

6.  Hence,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  God  is  more 
to  be  feared  when  he  bears  with  sinners  than  when  he 
instantly  punishes  their  sins.     "  Plus  timendum  est,  cum 
tolerat    quam    cum    festinanter    punit."      And   why  ? 
Because,  says  St.   Gregory,   they   to   whom   God  has 
shown  most  mercy,  shall,  if  they  do  not  cease  to  offend 
him,   be   chastised  with  the   greatest  rigour.     "  Quos 
diutius  expectat  durius  damnat."     The  saint  adds  that 
God  often  punishes  such  sinners  with  a  sudden  death, 
and  does  not  allow  them  time  for  repentance.     "  Sacpe 
qui  diu  tolerati  sunt  subita   morte   rapiuntur,  ut  nee 
Here  ante  mortem  liceat."     And  the  greater  the  light 
which  God  gives  to  certain  sinners  for  their  correction, 
the  greater  is  their  blindness  and  obstinacy  in  sin.  "For 
it  had  been  better  for  them  not  to  have  known  the  way 


NUMBER  OF  SINS  WHICH  GOD  PARDONS.  117 

of  justice,  than,  after  they  had  known  it,  to  turn  hack." 
(2  Pet.  ii.  21.)  Miserable  the  sinners  who,  after  having 
been  enlightened,  return  to  the  vomit.  St  Paul  says, 
that  it  is  morally  impossible  for  them  to  be  again  con 
verted.  "  For  it  is  impossible  for  those  who  were  once 
illuminated — have  tasted  also  the  heavenly  gifts,  ...  and 
are  fallen  away,  to  be  renewed  again  to  penance."  (Heb. 
vi.  4,  6.) 

7.  Listen,  then,  0  sinner,  to  the  admonition  of  the 
Lord :  "  My  son,  hast  thou  sinned  ?     Do  so  no  more,  but 
for  thy  former  sins  pray  that  they  may  be  forgiven  thee." 
(Eccl.  xxi.  1.)     Son,  add  not  sins  to  those  which  you 
have  already  committed,  but  be  careful  to  pray  for  the 
pardon  of  your  past  trangressions ;  otherwise,  if  you 
commit  another  mortal  sin,  the  gates  of  the  divine  mercy 
may  be  closed  against  you,  and  your  soul  may  be  lost  for 
ever.     When,  then,  beloved  brethren,  the  devil  tempts 
you  again  to  yield  to  sin,  say  to  yourself :  If  God  pardons 
me  no  more,  what  shall  become  of  me  for  all  eternity  ? 
Should  the  Devil,  in  reply,  say  :  "  Fear  not,  God  is  mer 
ciful  ;"  answer  him  by  saying  :  What  certainty  or  what 
probability  have  I,  that,  if  I  return  again  to  sin,  God 
will  show  me  mercy  or  grant  me  pardon  ?    Because  the 
threat  of  the  Lord  against  all  who  despise  his  calls: 
"Behold  I  have  called  and  you  refused. . .  I  also  will  laugh 
in  your  destruction,  and  will  mock  when  that  shall  come 
to  you  which  you  feared."  (Prov.  i.  24,  26.)     Mark  the 
words  I  also ;  they  mean  that,  as  you  have  mocked  the 
Lord  by  betraying  him  again  after  your  confession  and 
promises  of  amendment,  so  he  will  mock  you  at  the  hour 
of  death.     "  I  will  laugh  and  will  mock."     But  "  God  is 
not  mocked."  (Gal.  vi.  7.)     «'  As  a  dog,"  says  the  Wise 
Man,  "  that  returneth  to  his  vomit,  so  is  the  fool  that 
repeateth  his  folly."  (Prov.  xxvi.  11.)     B.  Denis  the 
Carthusian  gives  an  excellent  exposition  of  this  text.     He 
says  that,  as  a  dog  that  eats  what  he  has  just  vomited, 
is  an  object  of  disgust  and  abomination,  so  the  sinner 
who  returns  to  the  sins  which  he  has  detested  and  con 
fessed,  becomes  hateful  in  the  sight  of  God.     "  Sicut  id 
quod  per  vomitum  est  rejectum,  resumere   est  valide 
abominabile  ac  turpe  sic  peccata  deleta  reiterari." 

8.  0  folly  of  sinners  !     If  you  purchase  a  house,  you 


118  -SERMON   XV. 


spare  no  pains  to  get  all  the  securities  necessary  to  guard 
against  the  loss  of  your  money ;  if  you  take  medicine, 
you  are  careful  to  assure  yourself  that  it  cannot  injure 
you ;  if  you  pass  over  a  river,  you  cautiously  avoid  all 
danger  of  falling  into  it ;  and  for  a  transitory  enjoy 
ment,  for  the  gratification  of  revenge,  for  a  beastly  plea 
sure,  which  lasts  but  a  moment,  you  risk  your  eternal 
salvation,  saying:  "I  will  go  to  confession  after  I 
commit  this  sin."  And  when,  I  ask,  are  you  to  go  to 
confession  ?  You  say  :  "  On  to-morrow."  But  who  pro 
mises  you  to-morrow  ?  Who  assures  you  that  you  shall 
have  time  for  confession,  and  that  God  will  not  deprive 
you  of  life,  as  he  has  deprived  so  many  others,  in  the  act 
of  sin  ?  "  Diem  tenes,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  qui  horam 
non  tenes."  You  cannot  be  certain  of  living  for  another 
hour,  and  you  say:  "  I  will  go  to  confession  to-morrow." 
Listen  to  the  words  of  St.  Gregory  :  "  He  who  has  pro 
mised  pardon  to  penitents,  has  not  promised  to-morrow 
to  sinners."  (Horn.  xii.  in  Evan).  God  has  promised 
pardon  to  all  who  repent ;  but  he  has  not  promised  to 
wait  till  to-morrow  for  those  who  insult  him.  Perhaps 
God  will  give  you  time  for  repentance,  perhaps  he  will 
not.  But,  should  he  not  give  it,  what  shall  become  of 
your  soul  ?  In  the  meantime,  for  the  sake  of  a  miserable 
pleasure,  you  lose  the  grace  of  God,  and  expose  yourself 
to  the  danger  of  being  lost  for  ever. 

9.  Would  you,  for  such  transient  enjoyments,  risk 
your  money,  your  honour,  your  possessions,  your  liberty, 
and  your  life  ?  No,  you  would  not.  How  then  does  it 
happen  that,  for  a  miserable  gratification,  you  lose  your 
soul,  heaven,  and  God  ?  Tell  me :  do  you  believe  that 
heaven,  hell,  eternity,  are  truths  of  faith  ?  Do  you 
believe  that,  if  you  die  in  sin,  you  are  lost  for  ever  ? 
Oh !  what  temerity,  what  folly  is  it,  to  condemn  yourself 
voluntarily  to  an  eternity  of  torments  with  the  hope  of 
afterwards  reversing  the  sentence  of  your  condemnation  ! 
"  Nemo,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  sub  spe  salutis  vult 
aegrotare."  No  one  can  be  found  so  foolish  as  to  take 
poison  with  the  hope  of  preventing  its  deadly  effects  by 
adopting  the  ordinary  remedies.  And  you  will  condemn 
yourself  to  hell,  saying  that  you  expect  to  be  afterwards 
preserved  from  it.  0  folly  !  which,  in  conformity  with 


HEAVEN.  119 


the  divine  threats,  has  brought,  and  brings  every  day, 
so  many  to  hell.  lt  Thou  hast  trusted  in  thy  wickedness, 
and  evil  shall  come  upon  thee,  and  thou  shalt  not  know 
the  rising  thereof."  (Isa.  xlvii.  10,  11.)  You  have 
sinned,  trusting  rashly  in  the  divine  mercy  :  the  punish 
ment  of  your  guilt  shall  fall  suddenly  upon  you,  and  you 
shall  not  know  from  whence  it  comes.  What  do  you 
say  ?  What  resolution  do  you  make  ?  If,  after  this 
sermon,  you  do  not  firmly  resolve  to  give  yourself  to 
God,  I  weep  over  you,  and  regard  you  as  lost. 


SERMON  XVI.— SECOND  SUNDAY  OF  LENT. 

On  Heaven. 

"  Lord,  it  is  good  for  us  to  be  here."— MATT.  xvii.  4. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  read,  that  wishing  to  give  his 
disciples  a  glimpse  of  the  glory  of  Paradise,  in  order  to 
animate  them  to  labour  for  the  divine  honour,  the 
Redeemer  was  transfigured,  and  allowed  them  to  behold 
the  splendour  of  his  countenance.  Ravished  with  joy 
and  delight,  St.  Peter  exclaimed :  "  Lord,  it  is  good 
.for  us  to  be  here."  Lord,  let  us  remain  here ;  let  us 
-.never  more  depart  from  this  place ;  for,  the  sight  of 
thy  beauty  consoles  us  more  than  all  the  delights  of  the 
earth.  Brethren,  let  us  labour  during  the  remainder 
of  our  lives  to  gain  heaven.  Heaven  is  so  great  a 
good,  that,  to  purchase  it  for  us,  Jesus  Christ  has  sacri 
ficed  his  life  on  the  cross.  Be  assured,  that  the 
greatest  of  all  the  torments  of  the  damned  in  hell, 
arise  from  the  thought  of  having  lost  heaven  through 
their  own  fault.  The  blessings,  the  delights,  the  joys, 
the  sweetness  of  Paradise  may  be  acquired ;  but  they 
can  be  described  and  understood  only  by  those  blessed 
souls  that  enjoy  them.  But  let  us,  with  the  aid  of  the 
holy  Scripture,  explain  the  little  that  can  be  said  of 
them  here  below. 


120  SERMON    XVI. 


1.  According  to  the  Apostle,  no  man  on  this  earth, 
can  comprehend  the  infinite  blessings  which  God  has 
prepared  for  the  souls  that  love  him.  "  Eye  hath  not 
seen,  nor  ear  heard,  neither  hath  it  entered  into  the 
heart  of  man,  what  things  God  hath  prepared  for  them 
that  love  him."  (1  Cor.  ii.  9.)  In  this  life  we  cannot 
have  an  idea  of  any  other  pleasures  than  those  which 
we  enjoy  by  means  of  the  senses.  Perhaps  we  imagine 
that  the  beauty  of  heaven  resembles  that  of  a  wide  ex 
tended  plain  covered  with  the  verdure  of  spring, 
interspersed  with  trees  in  full  bloom,  and  abounding  in 
birds  fluttering  about  and  singing  on  every  side ;  or, 
that  it  is  like  the  beauty  of  a  garden  full  of  fruits  and 
flowers,  and  surrounded  by  fountains  in  continual  play. 
"  Oh  !  what  a  Paradise,"  to  behold  such  a  plain,  or  such 
a  garden  !  But,  oh !  how  much  greater  are  the  beauties 
of  heaven  !  Speaking  of  Paradise,  St.  Bernard  says : 
O  man,  if  you  wish  to  understand  the  blessings  of 
heaven,  know  that  in  that  happy  country  there  is 
nothing  which  can  be  disagreeable,  and  everything  that 
you  can  desire.  "  Nihil  est  quod  nolis,  totum  est  quod 
velis."  Although  there  are  some  things  here  below 
which  are  agreeable  to  the  senses,  how  many  more  are 
there  which  only  torment  us  ?  If  the  light  of  day  is 
pleasant,  the  darkness  of  night  is  disagreeable:  if  the 
spring  and  the  autumn  are  cheering,  the  cold  of  winter 
and  the  heat  of  summer  are  painful.  In  addition,  we 
have  to  endure  the  pains  of  sickness,  the  persecution  of 
men,  and  the  inconveniences  of  poverty  ;  we  must  sub 
mit  to  interior  troubles,  to  fears,  to  temptations  of  the 
devil,  doubts  of  conscience,  and  to  the  uncertainty  of 
eternal  salvation. 

2.  But,  after  entering  into  Paradise,  the  blest  shall 
have  no  more  sorrows.  "  God  shall  wipe  away  all  tears 
from  their  eyes."  The  Lord  shall  dry  up  the  tears  which 
they  have  shed  in  this  life.  "  And  death  shall  be  no 
more,  nor  mourning,  nor  crying,  nor  sorrow,  shall  be 
any  more,  for  the  former  things  are  passed  away.  And 
he  that  sat  on  the  throne,  said :  "  Behold,  I  make  all 
things  new."  (Apoc.  xxi.  4,  5.)  In  Paradise,  death  and 
the  fear  of  death  are  no  more :  in  that  place  of  bliss 
there  are  no  sorrows,  no  infirmities,  no  poverty,  no 


HEAVEN.  121 


inconveniencies,  no  vicissitudes  of  day  or  night,  of  cold 
or  of  heat.  In  that  kingdom  there  is  a  continual  day, 
always  serene,  a  continual  spring,  always  blooming.  In 
Paradise  there  are  no  persecutions,  no  envy ;  for  all  love 
each  other  with  tenderness,  and  each  rejoices  at  the 
happiness  of  the  others,  as  if  it  were  his  own.  There  is 
no  more  fear  of  eternal  perdition  ;  for  the  soul  confirmed 
in  grace  can  neither  sin  nor  lose  God. 

3.  "  Totum  est  quod  velis."  In  heaven  you  have 
all  you  can  desire.  "  Behold,  I  make  all  things  new." 
There  everything  is  new ;  new  beauties,  new  delights, 
new  joys.  There  all  our  desires  shall  be  satisfied.  The 
sight  shall  be  satiated  with  beholding  the  beauty  of  that 
city.  How  delightful  to  behold  a  city  in  which  the 
streets  should  be  of  crystal,  the  houses  of  silver,  the 
windows  of  gold,  and  all  adorned  with  the  most  beau 
tiful  flowers.  But,  oh  !  how  much  more  beautiful  shall 
be  the  city  of  Paradise  !  the  beauty  of  the  place  shall  be 
heightened  by  the  beauty  of  the  inhabitants,  who  are  all 
clothed  in  royal  robes ;  for,  according  to  St.  Augustine, 
they  are  all  kings.  "  Quot  cives,  tot  reges."  How 
delighted  to  behold  Mary,  the  queen  of  heaven,  who 
shall  appear  more  beautiful  than  all  the  other  citizens 
of  Paradise  !  But,  what  it  must  be  to  behold  the  beauty 
of  Jesus  Christ !  St.  Teresa  once  saw  one  of  the  hands 
of  Jesus  Christ,  and  was  struck  with  astonishment  at  the 
sight  of  such  beauty.  The  smell  shall  be  satiated  with 
odours,  but  with  the  odours  of  Paradise.  The  hearing 
shall  be  satiated  with  the  harmony  of  the  celestial  choirs. 
St.  Francis  once  heard  for  a  moment  an  angel  playing 
on  a  violin,  and  he  almost  died  through  joy.  How 
delightful  must  it  be  to  hear  the  saints  and  angels  sing 
ing  the  divine  praises  !  "They  shall  praise  thee  for 
ever  and  ever."  (Ps.  Ixxxiii.  5.)  What  must  it  be  to 
hear  Mary  praising  God !  St.  Francis  de  Sales  says, 
that,  as  the  singing  of  the  nightingale  in  the  wood 
surpasses  that  of  all  other  birds,  so  the  voice  of  Mary  is 
far  superior  to  that  of  all  the  other  saints.  In  a  word, 
there  are  in  Paradise  all  the  delights  which  man  can 
desire. 

4.  But  the  delights  of  which  we  have  spoken  are  the 
least  of  the  blessings  of  Paradise.     The  glory  of  heaven 


122  SERMON    XVI. 


consists  in  seeing  and  loving  God  face  to  face.  "  Totum 
quod  expectamus,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  duaa  syllabas 
sunt,  Deus."  The  reward  which  God  promises  to  us 
does  not  consist  altogether  in  the  beauty,  the  harmony, 
and  other  advantages  of  the  city  of  Paradise.  God 
himself,  whom  the  saints  are  allowed  to  behold,  is,  accord 
ing  to  the  promises  made  to  Abraham,  the  principal 
reward  of  the  just  in  heaven.  "  I  am  thy  reward 
exceeding  great."  (Gen.  xv.  1.)  St.  Augustine  asserts, 
that,  were  God  to  show  his  face  to  the  damned,  "  Hell 
would  be  instantly  changed  into  a  Paradise  of  delights." 
(Lib.  de  trip,  habit.,  torn.  9.)  And  he  adds  that,  were  a 
departed  soul  allowed  the  choice  of  seeing  God  and 
suffering  the  pains  of  hell,  or  of  being  freed  from  these 
pains  and  deprived  of  the  sight  of  God,  "  she  would 
prefer  to  see  God,  and  to  endure  these  torments." 

5.  The  delights  of  the  soul  infinitely  surpass  all  tho 
pleasures  of  the  senses.     Even  in  this  life  divine  love 
infuses  such  sweetness  into  the  soul  when  God  com 
municates  himself  to  her,  that  the  body  is  raised  from 
the  earth.     St.  Peter  of  Alcantara  once  fell  into  such  an 
ecstacy  of  love,  that,  taking  hold  of  a  tree,  he  drew  it 
up  from  the  roots,  and  raised  it  with  him  on  high.     So 
great  is  the  sweetness  of  divine  love,   that  the  holy 
martyrs,  in  the  midst  of  their  torments,  felt  no  pain,  but 
were   on   the   contrary    filled    with  joy.      Hence,    St. 
Augustine  says  that,  when  St.  Lawrence  was  laid  on  a 
red-hot  gridiron,  the  fervour  of  divine  love  made  him 
insensible  to  the  burning  heat  of  the  fire.     "  Hoc  igne 
incensus  non  sentit  incendium."     Even  on  sinners  who 
Teep  for  their  sins,  God   bestows   consolations  which 
exceed  all  earthly  pleasures.     Hence  St.  Bernard  says: 
"  If  it  be  so  sweet  to  weep  for  thee,  what  must  it  be  to 
rejoice  in  thee !" 

6.  How  great  is  the  sweetness  which  a  soul  experi 
ences,  when,  in  the  time  of  prayer,  God,  by  a  ray  of  his 
own  light,  shows  to  her  his  goodness  and  his  mercies 
towards   her,    and   particularly   the   love   which  Jesus 
Christ  has  borne  to  her  in  his  passion  !     She  feels  her 
heart  melting,  and  as  it  were  dissolved  through  love. 
But  in  this  life  we  do  not  see  God  as  he  really  is  :  we 
see  him  as  it  were  in.  the  dark.     "  We  see  now  through. 


HEAVEN. 


123 


a  glass  in  a  dark  manner,  but  then  face  to  face."  (1  Cor. 
xiii.  12.)  Here  below  God  is  hidden  from,  our  view  ; 
we  can  see  him  only  with  the  eyes  of  faith  :  how  great 
shall  be  our  happiness  when  the  veil  shall  be  raised,  and 
we  shall  be  permitted  to  behold  God  face  to  face  !  Wo 
shall  then  see  his  beauty,  his  greatness,  his  perfection, 
his  amiableness,  and  his  immense  love  for  our  souls. 

7.  "  Man  knoweth  not  whether  he  be  worthy  of  love 
or  hatred."  (Eccl.  ix.  1.)     The  fear  of  not  loving  God, 
and  of  not  being  loved  by  him,  is  the  greatest  affliction 
which  souls  that  love  God  endure  on  the  earth  ;  but,  in 
heaven,  the  soul  is  certain  that  she  loves  God,  and  that 
he  loves  her ;  she  sees  that  the  Lord  embraces  her  with 
infinite  love,  and  that  this  love  shall  not  be  dissolved 
for  all  eternity.      The  knowledge  of  the   love   which 
Jesus  Christ  has  shown  her  in  offering  himself  in  sacri 
fice  for  her  on  the  cross,  and  in  making  himself  her  food 
in  the  sacrament  of  the  altar,  shall  increase  the  ardour 
of  her  love.     She  shall  also  see  clearly  all  the  graces 
which  God  has  bestowed  upon  her,  all  the  helps  which 
he  has  given  her,  to  preserve  her  from  falling  into  sin, 
and  to  draw  her  to  his  love.     She  shall  see  that  all  the 
tribulations,  the  poverty,  infirmities,   and  persecutions 
which  she  regards  as  misfortunes,  have  all  proceeded 
from  love,  and  have  been  the  means  employed  by  Divine 
Providence  to  bring  her  to  glory.     She  shall  see  all  the 
lights,  loving  calls,  and  mercies  which  God  had  granted 
to  her,  after  she  had  insulted  him  by  her  sins.     From 
the  blessed  mountain  of  Paradise  she  shall  see  so  many 
souls  damned  for  fewer  sins  than  she  had  committed, 
and  shall  see  that  she  herself  is  saved  and  secured  against 
the  possibility  of  ever  losing  God. 

8.  The  goods  of  this  earth  do  not  satisfy  our  desires  : 
at  first  they  gratify  the  senses ;  but  when  we  become 
accustomed  to  them  they  cease  to  delight.      But  the 
joys   of  Paradise   constantly   satiate    and   content    the 
heart.      "  I   shall   be    satisfied   when   thy   glory   shall 
appear."  (Ps.  xvi.  15.)     And  though  they  satiate  they 
always  appear  to  be  as  new  as  the  first  time  when  they 
were  experienced  ;  they  are  always  enjoyed  and  always 
desired,  always  desired  and  always  possessed.     "  Sati 
ety,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  accompanies  desire."  (Lib.  13, 


124  SERMON    XVI. 


Mor.,  c.  xviii.)  Thus,  the  desires  of  the  saints  in 
Paradise  do  not  beget  pain,  because  they  are  always 
satisfied  ;  and  satiety  does  not  produce  disgust,  because 
it  is  always  accompanied  with  desire.  Hence  the  soul 
shall  be  always  satiated  and  always  thirsty  :  she  shall  be 
for  ever  thirsty,  and  always  satiated  with  delights. 
The  damned  are,  according  to  the  Apostle,  vessels  full 
of  wrath  and  of  torments,  "  vessels  of  wrath,  fitted  for 
destruction."  (Rom.  ix.  22.)  But  the  just  are  vessels 
full  of  mercy  and  of  joy,  so  that  they  have  nothing  to 
desire.  "  They  shall  be  inebriated  with  the  plenty  of 
thy  house."  (Ps.  xxxv.  9.)  In  beholding  the  beauty  of 
God,  the  soul  shall  be  so  inflamed  and  so  inebriated 
with  divine  love,  that  she  shall  remain  happily  lost  in 
God  ;  for  she  shall  entirely  forget  herself,  and  for  all 
eternity  shall  think  only  of  loving  and  praising  the 
immense  good  which  she  shall  possess  for  ever,  without 
the  fear  of  having  it  in  her  power  ever  to  lose  it.  In 
this  life,  holy  souls  love  God  ;  but  they  cannot  love  him 
with  all  their  strength,  nor  can  they  always  actually 
love  him.  St.  Thomas  teaches,  that  this  perfect  love  is 
only  given  to  the  citizens  of  heaven,  who  love  God  with 
their  whole  heart,  and  never  cease  to  love  him  actually. 
"  Ut  toturn  cor  hominis  semper  actualiter  in  Deum 
feratur  ista  est  perfectio  patria>."  (2,  2  quacst.  44,  art. 
4,  ad.  2.) 

9.  Justly,  then,  has  St.  Augustine  said,  that  to  gain 
the   eternal   glory    of  Paradise,    we   should   cheerfully 
embrace  eternal  labour.     "  Pro  aeterna  requie  acternus 
labor  subeundus  esset."     "  For  nothing/'  says  David, 
"  shalt  thou  save  them."  (Ps.  Iv.  8.)     The  saints  have 
done  but  little  to  acquire  Heaven.     So  many  kings,  who 
have  abdicated  their  thrones  and  shut  themselves  up  in 
a  cloister ;  so  many  holy  anchorets,  who  have  confined 
themselves  in  a  cave;  so  many  martyrs,  who  have  cheer 
fully  submitted  to  torments — to  the  rack,  and  to  red-hot 
plates — have  done  but  little.     "  The  sufferings  of  this 
life  are  not  worthy  to  be  compared  to  the  glory  to  come." 
(Rom.  viii.  18.)     To  gain  heaven,  it  would  be  but  little 
to  endure  all  the  pains  of  this  life. 

10.  Let  us,  then,  brethren,  courageously  resolve  to 
bear  patiently  with  all  the  sufferings  which  shall  come 


CONCEALING   SINS    IN    CONFESSION.  125 

upon  us  during  the  remaining  days  of  our  lives :  to 
secure  heaven  they  are  all  little  and  nothing.  Rejoice 
then  ;  for  all  these  pains,  sorrows,  and  persecutions  shall, 
if  we  are  saved,  be  to  us  a  source  of  never-ending  joys 
and  delights.  "  Your  sorrows  shall  be  turned  into  joy." 
(John  xvi.  20.)  When,  then,  the  crosses  of  this  life 
afflict  us,  let  us  raise  our  eyes  to  heaven,  and  console 
ourselves  with  the  hope  of  Paradise.  At  the  end  of  her 
life,  St.  Mary  of  Egypt  was  asked,  by  the  Abbot  St. 
Zozimus,  how  she  had  been  able  to  live  for  forty-seven 
years  in  the  desert  where  he  found  her  dying.  She 
answered :  "  With  the  hope  of  Paradise."  If  we  be 
animated  with  the  same  hope,  we  shall  not  feel  the 
tribulations  of  this  life.  Have  courage  !  Let  us  love 
God  and  labour  for  heaven.  There  the  saint  expects 
us,  Mary  expects  us,  Jesus  Christ  expects  us  ;  he  holds 
in  his  hand  a  crown  to  make  each  of  us  a  king  in  that 
eternal  kingdom. 


SERMON  XVIL— THIRD  SUNDAY  IN  LENT. 

On  concealing  sins  in  confession. 

"  And  he  was  casting  out  a  devil,  and  the  same  was  dumb." — LUKE 
xi.  14. 

THE  devil  does  not  bring  sinners  to  hell  with  their  eyes 
open  :  he  first  blinds  them  with  the  malice  of  their  own 
sins.  "  For  their  own  malice  blinded  them."  (Wis.  ii. 
21.)  He  thus  leads  them  to  eternal  perdition.  Before 
we  fall  into  sin,  the  enemy  labours  to  blind  us,  that  we 
may  not  see  the  evil  we  do  and  the  ruin  we  bring  upon 
ourselves  by  offending  God.  After  we  commit  sin,  he 
seeks  to  make  us  dumb,  that,  through  shame,  we  may 
conceal  our  guilt  in  confession.  Thus,  he  leads  us  to 
hell  by  a  double  chain,  inducing  us,  after  our  trans 
gressions,  to  consent  to  a  still  greater  sin — the  sin  of 
sacrilege.  I  will  speak  on  this  subject  to-day,  and  will 
endeavour  to  convince  you  of  the  great  evil  of  conceal 
ing  sins  in  confession 


126  SERMON    XVII. 


1.  In  expounding  the  words  of  David — "  Set  a  door 
O  Lord,  round  about  my  lips,"  (Ps.  cxl.  3)  — St.  Augus 
tine  says  :  "  Non  dixit  claustrum,  sed  ostium  :  ostium  et 
aperitur  et  clauditur :  aperiatur  ad  confessionem  peccati : 
claudatur  ad  excusationem  peccati."     "We  should  keep 
a  door  to  the  mouth,  that  it  may  be  closed  against 
detraction,  and  blasphemies,   and   all  improper  words, 
and  that  it  may  be  opened  to  confess  the  sins  we  have 
committed.     "  Thus,"  adds  the  holy  doctor,  "  it  will  be 
a  door  of  restraint,   and  not  of  destruction."     To  be 
silent  when  we  are  impelled  to  utter  words  injurious  to 
God  or  to  our  neighbour,  is  an  act  of  virtue  ;  but,  to  be 
silent  in  confessing  our  sins,  is  the  ruin  of  the  soul. 
After  we  have  offended  God,  the  devil  labours  to  keep 
the  mouth  closed,  and  to  prevent  us  from  confessing 
our  guilt.     St.  Antonine  relates,  that  a  holy  solitary 
once  saw  the  devil  standing  beside  a  certain  person  who 
wished  to  go  to  confession.      The   solitary  asked  the 
fiend  what  he  was  doing  there.     The  enemy  said  in 
reply  :  "  I  now  restore  to  these  penitents  what  I  before 
took  away  from  them  ;  I  took  away  from  them  shame 
while  they  were  committing  sin  ;  I  now  restore  it  that 
they  may  have  a  horror  of  confession."     "  My  sores  are 
putrefied  and  corrupted,  because  of  my  foolishness."  (Ps. 
xxxvii.  6.)     Gangrenous  sores  are  fatal ;  and  sins  con 
cealed  in  confession  are  spiritual  ulcers,  which  mortify 
and  become  gangrenous. 

2.  "Pudorem,"   says  St.  Chrysostom,   "  dedit  Deus 
peccato,    confessioni   nduciam:    invertit    rem    diabolis, 
peccato  fiduciam  preebet,  confessioni  pudorem."  (Proem, 
in  Isa.)     God  has  made  sin  shameful,  that  we  may 
abstain  from  it,  and  gives  us  confidence  to  confess  it  by 
promising  pardon  to  all  who  accuse  themselves  of  their 
sins.     But  the  devil  does  the  contrary:  he  gives  confi 
dence  to  sin  by  holding  out  hopes  of  pardon  ;  but,  when 
sin  is   committed,   he  inspires  shame,  to  prevent  the 
confession  of  it. 

3.  A   disciple   of  Socrates,   at  the  moment  he  was 
leaving  a  house  of  bad  fame,  saw  his  master  pass :  to 
avoid  being  seen  by  him,  he  went  back  into  the  house. 
Socrates  came  to  the  door  and  said :  My  son,  it  is  a 
shameful  thing  to  enter,  but  not  to  depart  from  this 


CONCEALING    SINS    IN    CONFESSION.  127 

house.  "  Non  te  pudeat,  fili  egredi  ex  hoc  loco,  intrasse 
pudeat."  To  you  also,  0  brethren,  who  have  sinned,  I 
say,  that  you  ought  to  be  ashamed  to  offend  so  great 
and  so  good  a  God.  But  you  have  no  reason  to  be 
ashamed  of  confessing  the  sins  which  you  have  com 
mitted.  Was  it  shameful  in  St.  Mary  Magdalene  to 
acknowledge  publicly  at  the  feet  of  Jesus  Christ  that 
she  was  a  sinner  ?  By  her  confession  she  became  a 
saint.  Was  it  shameful  in  St.  Augustine  not  only  to 
confess  his  sins,  but  also  to  publish  them  in  a  book,  that, 
for  his  confusion,  they  might  be  known  to  the  whole 
world  ?  Was  it  shameful  in  St.  Mary  of  Egypt  to  con 
fess,  that  for  so  many  years  she  had  led  a  scandalous 
life  ?  By  their  confessions  these  have  become  saints, 
and  are  honoured  on  the  altars  of  the  Church. 

4.  We  say  that  the  man  who  acknowledges  his  guilt 
before  a  secular  tribunal   is   condemned ,    but  in  the 
tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ,  they  who   confess  their  sins 
obtain  pardon,   and  receive  a  crown  of  eternal  glory. 
"  After  confession,"  says  St.  Chrysostom,  "  a  crown  is 
given  to  penitents."     He  who  is  afflicted  with  an  ulcer 
must,  if  he  wish  to  be  cured,  show  it  to  a  physician  : 
otherwise  it  will  fester  and  bring  on  death.     "  Quod 
ignorat,"  says  the   Council  of  Trent,    "  medicina   non 
curat."     If,  then,  brethren,  your  souls  be  ulcerated  with 
sin,  be  not  ashamed  to  confess  it;  otherwise  you  are  lost. 
"  For  thy  soul  be  not  ashamed  to  say  the  truth."   (Eccl. 
iv.  24.)  ^  But,  you  say,  I  feel  greatly  ashamed  to  confess 
such  a  sin.     If  you  wish  to  be  saved,  you  must  conquer 
this  shame.     "  For  there  is  a  shame  that  bringeth  sin, 
and  there  is  a  shame  that  bringeth  glory  and  grace." 
(Ib.  iv.  25.)     There  are,  according  to  the  inspired  writer, 
two  kinds  of  shame  :  one  of  which  leads  souls  to  sin, 
and  that  is  the  shame  which  makes  them  conceal  their 
sins  ^  at  confession ;  the  other  is  the  confusion  which  a 
Christian  feels  in  confessing  his  sins  ;  and  this  confusion 
obtains  for  him  the  grace  of  God  in  this  life,  and  the 
glory  of  heaven  in  the  next. 

5.  St.  Augustine  says,  that  to  prevent  the  sheep  from 
seeking  assistance  by  her  cries  the  wolf  seizes  her  by  the 
neck,  and  thus  securely  carries  her  away  and  devours 
her.     The  devil  acts  in  a  similar  manner  with  the  sheep 


128  SERMON    XVII. 


of  Jesus  Christ.  After  having  induced  them  to  yield 
to  sin,  he  seizes  them  by  the  throat,  that  they  may  not 
confess  their  guilt ;  and  thus  he  securely  brings  them  to 
hell.  For  those  who  have  sinned  grievously,  there  is 
no  means  of  salvation  but  the  confession  of  their  sins. 
But,  what  hope  of  salvation  can  he  have  who  goes  to 
confession  and  conceals  his  sins,  and  makes  use  of  the 
tribunal  of  penance  to  offend  God,  and  to  make  himself 
doubly  the  slave  of  Satan  ?  What  hope  would  you 
entertain  of  the  recovery  of  the  man  who,  instead  of 
taking  the  medicine  prescribed  by  his  physician,  drank 
a  cup  of  poison  ?  0  God  !  What  can  the  sacrament  of 
penance  be  to  those  who  conceal  their  sins,  but  a  deadly 
poison,  which  adds  to  their  guilt  the  malice  of  sacrilege  ? 
In  giving  absolution,  the  confessor  dispenses  to  his 
patient  the  blood  of  Jesus  Christ ;  for  it  is  through  the 
merits  of  that  blood  that  he  absolves  from  sin.  What, 
then,  does  the  sinner  do,  when  he  conceals  his  sins  in 
confession  ?  He  tramples  under  foot  the  blood  of  Jesus 
Christ.  And  should  he  afterwards  receive  the  holy 
communion  in  a  state  of  sin,  he  is,  according  to  St. 
Chrysostom,  as  guilty  as  if  he  threw  the  consecrated 
host  into  a  sink.  "  Non  minus  detestabile^  est  in  os 
pollutum,  quam  in  sterquilinum  mittere  Dei  Filium." 
(Horn.  Ixxxiii.,  in  Matt.)  Accursed  shame  !  how  many 
poor  souls  do  you  bring  to  hell  ?  "  Magis  memores 
pudoris,"  says  Tertullian,  "  quam  salutis."  Unhappy 
souls  !  they  think  only  of  the  shame  of  confessing  their 
sins,  and  do  not  reflect  that,  if  they  conceal  them,  they 
shall  be  certainly  damned. 

6.  Some  penitents  ask :  "  What  will  my  confessor  say 
when  he  hears  that  I  have  committed  such  a  sin  ?"    What 
will  he  say  ?     He  will  say  that  you  are,  like  all  persons 
living  on  this  earth,  miserable  and  prone  to  sin :  he  will 
say  that,  if  you  have  done  evil,  you  have  also  performed 
a  glorious  action  in  overcoming  shame,  and  in  candidly 
confessing  your  fault. 

7.  "  But  I  am  afraid  to  confess  this  sin."    To  how  many 
confessors,  I  ask,  must  you  tell  it?     It  is  enough  to 
mention  it  to  one  priest,  who  hears  many  sins  of  the 
same  kind  from  others.     It  is  enough  to  confess  it  once  : 
the  confessor  will  give  you  penance  and  absolution,  and 


CONCEALING    SINS    IN    CONFESSION.  129 

your  conscience  shall  be  tranquillized.  But,  you  say  : 
"  I  feel  a  great  repugnance  to  tell  this  sin  to  my  spiri 
tual  father."  Tell  it,  then,  to  another  confessor,  and,  if 
you  wish,  to  one  to  whom  you  are  unknown.  "  But,  if 
this  come  to  the  knowledge  of  my  confessor,  he  will  be 
displeased  with  me."  What  then  do  you  mean  to  do  ? 
Perhaps,  to  avoid  giving  displeasure  to  him,  you  intend 
to  commit  a  heinous  crime,  and  remain  under  sentence 
of  damnation.  This  would  be  the  very  height  of  folly. 

8.  Are  you  afraid  that  the  confessor  will  make  known 
your  sin  to  others  ?     Would  it  not  be  madness  to  suspect 
that  he  is  so  wicked  as  to  break  the  seal  of  confession 
by  revealing  your  sin  to  others  ?     Remember  that  the 
obligation  of  the  seal  of  confession  is  so  strict,  that  a 
confessor  cannot  speak  out   of  confession,  even  to  the 
penitent,  of  the  smallest  venial  fault ;  and  if  he  did  so,* 
he  would  be  guilty  of  a  most  grievous  sin. 

9.  But  you  say  :  "I  am   afraid  that  my  confessor, 
when   he   hears   my   sin,    will   rebuke   me   with  great 
severity."     0  God  !     Do  you  not  see  that  all  these  are 
deceitful  artifices  of  the  devil  to  bring  you  to  hell  ?   No ; 
the  confessor  will  not  rebuke  you,  but  he  will  give  an 
advice  suited  to  your  state.     A  confessor  cannot  ex 
perience  greater  consolation  than  in  absolving  a  penitent 
who   confesses   his   sins   with   true    sorrow    and    with 
sincerity.     If  a   queen   were   mortally   wounded  by  a 
slave,  and  you  were  in  possession  of  a  remedy  by  which 
she  could  be  cured,  how  great  would  be  your  joy  in 
saving  her  life  !     Such  is  the  joy  which  a  confessor 
feels  in  absolving  a  soul  in  the  state  of  sin.     By  his  act 
he  delivers  her  from  eternal  death :  and  by  restoring  to 
her  the  grace  of  God,  he  makes  her  a  queen  of  Paradise. 

10.  But  you  have  so  many  fears,  and  are  not  afraid 
of  damning  your  own  soul  by  the  enormous  crime  of 
concealing  sins  in  confession.     You  are  afraid  of  the 
rebuke   of  your   confessor,    and   fear   not  the  reproof 
which  you  shall  receive  from  Jesus  Christ,  your  Judge, 
at  the  hour  of  death.     You  are  afraid  that  your  sins 
shall   become   known   (which   is   impossible),   and  you 
dread  not  the  day  of  judgment,  on  which,  if  you  conceal 

*  That  is,  without  the  permission  of  the  penitent. 

I 


130  SERMON    XVII. 


them,  they  shall  be  revealed  to  all  men.  If  you  knew 
that,  by  concealing  sins  in  confession,  they  shall  be  made 
known  to  all  your  relatives  and  to  all  your  neighbours, 
you  would  certainly  confess  them.  But,  do  you*  not 
know,  says  St.  Bernard,  that  if  you  refuse  to  confess 
your  sins  to  one  man,  who,  like  yourself,  is  a  sinner, 
they  shall  be  made  known  not  only  to  all  your  relatives 
and  neighbours,  but  to  the  entire  human  race  ?  "  Si 
pudor  est  tibi  uni  homini,  et  peccatori  peccatum  expo- 
nere,  quid  facturus  es  in  die  judicii,  ubi  omnibus  exposita 
tua  conscientia  patebit  ?"  (S.  Ber.  super  illud  Joan.,  cap. 
xi.)  "  Lazare  veni  foras."  If  you  do  not  confess  your 
sin,  God  himself  shall,  for  your  confusion,  publish  not 
only  the  sin  which  you  conceal,  but  also  all  your  iniqui 
ties,  in  the  presence  of  the  angels  and  of  the  whole  world. 
"  I  will  discover  thy  shame  to  thy  face,  and  will  show 
thy  wickedness  to  the  nations."  (Nah.  iii.  5.) 

11.  Listen,  then,  to  the  advice  of  St.  Ambrose.     The 
devil  keeps  an  account  of  your  sins,  to  charge  you  with 
ihem  at  the  tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ.     Do  you  wish, 
says  the  saint,  to  prevent  this  accusation  ?     Anticipate 
your  accuser:  accuse  yourself  now  to  a  confessor,  and 
then  no  accuser  shall  appear  against  you  at  the  judg 
ment-seat  of  God.     "  Pra3veni  accusatorem  tuum  ;  si  to 
accusaveris,  accusatorem  nullum  timebis."   (Lib.  2  de 
Prcnit.,  cap.  ii.)     But,  according  to  St.  Augustine,  if  you 
excuse  yourself  in  confession,  you  shut  up  sin  within 
your  soul,  and  shut  out  pardon.     "  Excusas  te,  includis 
peccatum,  excludis  indulgentiam."  (Horn.  xii.  50.) 

12.  If,  then,  brethren,  there  be  a  single  soul  among 
you  who  has  ever  concealed  a  sin,  through  shame,  in  the 
tribunal  of  penance,  let  him  take  courage,  and  make  a 
full  confession  of  all  his  faults.     "  Give  glory  to  God 
with  a  good  heart."  (Eccl.  xxxv.  10.)     Give  glory  to 
God,   and  confusion  to  the  devil.     A  certain  penitent 
was  tempted  by  Satan  to  conceal  a  sin  through  shame  ; 
but  she  was  resolved  to  confess  it ;  and  while  she  was 
going  to  her  confessor,   the   devil   came  forward  and 
asked   her  where   she   was   going.     She    courageously 
answered:  "I  am  going  to  cover  myself  and  you  with 
confusion."     Act  you  in  a  similar  manner;  if  you  have 
ever  concealed  a  mortal  sin,  confess  it  candidly  to  your 


CONCEALING    SINS   IN    CONFESSION.  131 

director,  and  confound  the  devil.  Eemember  that  the 
greater  the  violence  you  do  yourself  in  confessing  your 
sins,  the  greater  will  be  the  love  with  which  Jesus  Christ 
will  embrace  you. 

^   13.  Courage,  then  !  expel  this  viper  which  you  har 
bour  in  your  soul,  and  which  continually  corrodes  your 
heart  and  destroys  your  peace.     Oh  !  what  a  hell  does 
a  Christian  suffer  who  keeps  in  his  heart  a  sin  concealed 
through  shame  in  confession  !     He  suffers  an  anticipation 
of  hell.     It  is  enough  to  say  to  the  confessor :  "  Father, 
L  have  a  certain  scruple  regarding  my  past  life,  but  I 
am  ashamed  to  tell  it."     This  will  be  enough:  the  con 
fessor  will  help  to  pluck  out  the  serpent  which  gnaws 
your  conscience.      And,   that  you  may   not   entertain 
groundless  scruples,  I  think  it  right  to  tell  you,  that  if 
the  sin  which  you  are  ashamed  to  tell  be  not  mortal,  or 
if  you  never  considered  it  to  be  a  mortal  sin,  you  are  not 
obliged  to  confess  it ;  for  we  are  bound  only  to  confess 
mortal  sins.     Moreover,  if  you  have  doubts  whether  you 
ever  confessed  a  certain  sin  of  your  former  life,  but  know 
that,  in  preparing  for  confession,  you  always  carefully 
examined  your  conscience,  and  that  you  never  concealed 
a  sm  through  shame  ;  in  this  case,  even  though  the  sin 
about  the  confession  of  which  you  are  doubtful,  had  been 
a  grievous  fault,  you  are   not   obliged   to  confess   it- 
because  it  is  presumed  to  be  morally  certain  that  you 
have  already  confessed  it.     But,  if  you  know  that  the 
em  was  grievous,  and  that  you  never  accused  yourself  of 
6  in  confession,   then  there  is  no  remedy  ;  you  must 
confess  it,  or  you  must  be  damned  for  it.     But,  0  lost 
sheep,  go  instantly  to  confession.      Jesus  Christ  is  wait- 
ng  for  you;  he  stands  with  arms  open  to  pardon  and 
embrace  you,  if  you  acknowledge  your  guilt.     I  assure 
you  that,  after  having  confessed  all  your  sins,  you  shall 
leef  such  consolation  at  having  unburdened  your  con 
science  and  acquired  the  grace  of  God,  that  you  shall  for 
ever  bless  the  day  on  which  you  made  this  confession, 
o  as  soon  as  possible  in  search  of  a  confessor.     Do  not 
give  the  devil  time  to  continue  to  tempt  you.  and  to 
make  you  put  off  your  confession:  go  immediately:  for 
Jesus  Christ  is  waiting  for  you 


132  SERMON   XVIII. 


SERMON  XVIII.— FOURTH  SUNDAY  OF  LENT. 

On  the  tender  compassion  which  Jesus  Christ  enter 
tains  towards  sinners. 

"Make  the  men  sit  down."— JOHN  vi.  10. 

WE  read  in  this  day's  gospel  that,  having  gone  up  into 
a  mountain  with  his  disciples,  and  seeing  a  multitude  of 
five  thousand  persons,  who  followed  him  hecause  they 
saw  the  miracles  which  he  wrought  on  them  that  were 
diseased,  the  Redeemer  said  to  St.  Philip:  "Whence 
shall  we  huy  bread,  that  these  may  eat  ?"  "  Lord," 
answered  St.  Philip,  "  two-hundred  pennyworth  of  bread 
is  not  sufficient  that  every  one  may  take  a  little."  St. 
Andrew  then  said :  There  is  a  boy  here  that  has  five 
barley  loaves  and  two  fishes  ;  but  what  are  these  among 
so  many  ?  But  Jesus  Christ  said :  "  Make  the  men  sit 
down."  And  he  distributed  the  loaves  and  fishes  among 
them.  The  multitude  were  satisfied :  and  the  fragments 
of  bread  which  remained  filled  twelve  baskets.  The  Lord 
wrought  this  miracle  through  compassion  for  the  bodily 
wants  of  these  poor  people  ;  but  far  more  tender  is  his 
compassion  for  the  necessities  of  the  souls  of  the  poor — 
that  is,  of  sinners  who  are  deprived  of  the  divine  grace. 
This  tender  compassion  of  Jesus  Christ  for  sinners  shall 
be  the  subject  of  this  day's  discourse. 

1.  Through  the  bowels  of  his  mercy  towards  men, 
who  groaned  under  the  slavery  of  sin  and  Satan,  our 
most  loving  Redeemer  descended  from  heaven  to  earth, 
to  redeem  and  save  them  from  eternal  torments  by  his 
own  death.     Such  was  the  language  of  St.  Zachary,  the 
father  of  the  Baptist,  when  the  Blessed  Virgin,  who  had 
already  become  the  mother  of  the  Eternal  Word,  entered 
his  house.     "  Through  the  bowels  of  the  mercy  of  our 
God,  in  which  the  Orient  from  on  high  hath  visited  us." 
(Luke  i.  78.) 

2.  Jesus  Christ,  the  good  pastor,  who  came  into  the 
world  to  obtain  salvation  for  us  his  sheep,  has  said  :  "  I 
am  come  that  they  may  have  life,  and  may  have  it 
more  abundantly."  (John  x.  10.)     Mark  the  expression, 


COMPASSION   OF    CHRIST.  133 

"  more  abundantly/'  which  signifies  that  the  Son  of  Man 
came  on  earth  not  only  to  restore  us  to  the  life  of  grace 
which  we  lost,  but  to  give  us  a  better  life  than  that 
which  we  forfeited  by  sin.  Yes  ;  for  as  St.  Leo  says, 
the  benefits  which  we  have  derived  from  the  death  of 
Jesus  are  greater  than  the  injury  which  the  devil  has 
done  us  by  sin.  "  Ampliora  adepti  sumus  per  Christ! 
gratiam  quam  per  diaboli  amiseramus  invidiam."  (Ser. 
i.,  de  Ascen.)  The  same  doctrine  is  taught  by  the 
Apostle,  who  says  that,  "  where  sin  abounded,  grace  did 
more  abound."  (Rom.  v.  20.) 

3.  But,  my  Lord,  since  thou  hast  resolved  to  take 
human  flesh,  would  not  a  single  prayer  offered  by  thee 
be  sufficient  for  the  redemption  of  all  men  ?     What  need, 
then,  was  there  of  leading  a  life  of  poverty,  humiliation, 
and  contempt,  for  thirty- three  years,  of  suffering  a  cruel 
and  shameful  death  on  an  infamous  gibbet,  and  of  shed 
ding  all  thy  blood  by  dint  of  torments  ?     I  know  well, 
answers  Jesus  Christ,  that  one  drop  of  my  blood,  or  a 
simple  prayer,  would  be  sufficient  for  the  salvation  of 
the  world ;  but  neither  would  be  sufficient  to  show  the 
love  which  I  bear  to  men  :  and  therefore,  to  be  loved  by 
men  when  they  should  see  me  dead  on  the  cross  for  the 
love  of  them,   I  have  resolved  to  submit  to  so  many 
torments  and  to  so  painful  a  death.     This,  he  says,  is 
the  duty  of  a  good  pastor.     "  I  am  the  good  shepherd. 
The  good  shepherd  giveth  his  life  for  his  sheep... I  lay 
down  my  life  for  my  sheep."  (John  x.  11,  15.) 

4.  O  men,  O  men,  what  greater  proof  of  love  could 
the  Son  of  God  give  us  than  to  lay  down  his  life  for  us 
his  sheep  ?     "  In  this  we  have  known  the  charity  of 
God  ;  because  he  hath  laid  down  his  life  for  us."  (L 
John  iii.   16.)     No   one,   says  the  Saviour,    can  show 
greater  love  to  his  friends  than  to  give  his  life  for  them. 
"  Greater  love  than  this  no  man  hath,  that  a  man  lay 
down  his  life  for  his  friends."  (John  xv.  13.)    But  thou, 
O  Lord,  hast  died  not  only  for  friends,  but  for  us  who 
were  thy  enemies  by  sin.     "  When  we  were  enemies,  we 
were  reconciled  to  God  by  the  death  of  his  Son."  (Rom. 
v.  10.)    0  infinite  love  of  our  God,  exclaims  St.  Bernard ; 
"  to  spare  slaves,  neither  the  Father  has  spared  the  Son, 
nor  the  Son  himself."    To  pardon  us,  who  were  rebellious 


134  SERMON   XVIII. 


servants,  the  Father  would  not  pardon  the  Son,  and  the 
Son  would  not  pardon  himself,  but,  by  his  death,  has 
satisfied  the  divine  justice  for  the  sins  which  we  have 
committed. 

5.  When  Jesus  Christ  was  near  his  passion  he  went 
one  day  to  Samaria:  the  Samaritans  refused  to  receive 
him.  Indignant  at  the  insult  offered  by  the  Samaritans 
to  their  Master,  St.  James  and  St.  John,  turning  to 
Jesus,  said :  "  Lord,  wilt  thou  that  we  command  fire  to 
come  down  from  heaven  and  consume  them  ?"  (Luke 
ix.  54.)  But  Jesus,  who  was  all  sweetness,  even  to  those 
who  insulted  him,  answered :  "  You  know  not  of  what 
spirit  you  are.  The  Son  of  Man  came  not  to  destroy 
souls,  but  to  save."  (r.  55  and  50.)  lie  severely  rebuked 
the  disciples.  What  spirit  is  ^  this,  he  said,  which 
possesses  you  ?  It  is  not  my  spirit :  mine  is  the  spirit 
of  patience  and  compassion  ;  for  I  ain  come,  not  to 
destroy,  but  to  save  the  souls  of  men  :  and  you  speak  of 
fire,  of  punishment,  and  of  vengeance.  Hence,  in 
another  place,  he  said  to  his  disciples:  "Learn  of  me, 
because  I  am  meek  and  humble  of  heart."  (Matt.  xi.  '29  ) 
I  do  not  wish  of  you  to  learn  of  me  to  chastise,  but  to 
be  meek,  and  to  bear  and  pardon  injuries. 

0.  How  beautiful  has  he  described  the  tenderness  of 
his  heart  towards  sinners  in  the  following  words : 
"  What  man  of  you  that  hath  an  hundred  sheep  :  and, 
if  he  lose  one  of  them,  doth  he  not  leave  ninety-nine  in 
the  desert,  and  go  after  that  which  is  lost  until  he  find 
it :  and  when  he  hath  found  it,  lay  it  upon  his  shoulder 
rejoicing  ;  and  coming  home,  call  together  his  friends 
and  neighbours,  saying  to  them :  Rejoice  with  me, 
because  I  have  found  my  sheep  that  was  lost  ?"  (Luke 
xv.  4,  5,  and  6.)  But,  0  Lord,  it  is  not  thou  that 
oughtest  to  rejoice,  but  the  sheep  that  has  found  her 
pastor  and  her  God.  The  sheep  indeed,  answers  Jesus, 
rejoices  at  finding  me,  her  shepherd  ;  but  far  greater  is 
the  joy  which  1  feel  at  having  found  one  of  my  lost 
sheep.  He  concludes  the  parable  in  these  words  :—  "  I 
say  to  you,  that  even  so  there  shall  be  joy  in  heaven, 
for  one  sinner  that  doth  penance,  more  than  upon 
ninety-nine  just,  who  need  not  penance."  (Luke  xv.  7.) 
There  is  more  joy  in  heaven  at  the  conversion  of  one 


COMPASSION    OF    CHRIST.  135 

sinner,  than  upon  ninety-nine  just  men  who  preserve 
their  innocence.  What  sinner,  then,  can  be  so  hardened 
as  not  to  go  instantly  and  cast  himself  at  the  feet  of  his 
Saviour,  when  he  knows  the  tender  love  with  which 
Jesus  Christ  is  prepared  to  embrace  him,  and  carry  him 
on  his  shoulders,  as  soon  as  he  repents  of  his  sins  ? 

7.  The  Lord  has  also  declared  his  tenderness  towards 
penitent  sinners  in  the  parable  of  the  Prodigal  Child. 
(Luke  xv.  12,  etc.)  In  that  parable  the  Son  of  God 
says,  that  a  certain  young  man,  unwilling  to  be  any 
longer  under  the  control  of  his  father,  and  desiring  to 
live  according  to  his  caprice  and  corrupt  inclinations, 
asked  the  portion  of  his  father's  substance  which  fell  to 
him.  The  father  gave  it  with  sorrow,  weeping  over  the 
ruin  of  his  son.  The  son  departed  from  his  father's 
house.  Having  in  a  short  time  dissipated  his  substance, 
he  was  reduced  to  such  a  degree  of  misery  that,  to 
procure  the  necessaries  of  life,  he  was  obliged  to  feed 
swine.  _  All  this  was  a  figure  of  a  sinner,  who,  after 
departing  from  God,  and  losing  the  divine  grace  and  all 
the  merits  he  had  acquired,  leads  a  life  of  misery  under 
the  slavery  of  the  devil.  In  the  gospel  it  is  added  that 
the  young  man,  seeing  his  wretched  condition,  resolved 
to  return  to  his  father  :  and  the  father,  who  is  a  figure 
of  Jesus  Christ,  seeing  his  son  return  to  him,  was 
instantly  moved  to  pity.  "His  father  saw  him,  and 
was  moved  with  compassion"  (v.  20);  and,  instead  of 
driving  him  away,  as  the  ungrateful  son  had  deserved, 
"running  to  him,  he  fell  upon  his  neck  and  kissed 
him."  He  ran  with  open  arms  to  meet  him,  and, 
through  tenderness,  fell  upon  his  neck,  and  consoled 
him  by  his  embraces.  He  then  said  to  his  servants : 
"  Bring  forth  quickly  the  first  robe,  and  put  it  on  him." 
According  to  St.  Jerome  and  St.  Augustine,  the  first 
robe  signifies  the  divine  grace,  which,  in  addition  to  new 
celestial  gifts,  God,  by  granting  pardon,  gives  to  the 
penitent  sinner.  "  And  put  a  ring  on  his  finger."  Give 
him  the  ring  of-  a  spouse.  By  recovering  the  grace  of 
God,  the  soul  becomes  again  the  spouse  of  Jesus  Christ. 
"  And  bring  hither  the  fatted  calf,  and  kill  it,  and  let 
us  eat  and  make  merry"  (v.  23).  Bring  hither  the 
fatted  calf — which  signifies  the  holy  communion,  or 


136  SERMON    XVIII. 


Jesus  in  the  holy  sacrament  mystically  killed  and  offered 
in  sacrifice  on  the  altar ;  let  us  eat  and  rejoice.  But 
why,  0  divine  Father,  so  much  joy  at  the  return  of  so 
ungrateful  a  child  ?  Because,  answered  the  Father, 
this  my  son  was  dead,  and  he  is  come  to  life  again  ;  he 
was  lost,  and  I  have  found  him. 

8.  This  tenderness  of  Jesus  Christ  was  experienced 
by  the  sinful  woman  (according  to  St.  Gregory,  Mary 
Magdalene)  who  cast  herself  at  the  feet  of  Jesus,  and 
washed  them  with  her  tears.  (Luke  vii.   47   and  50.) 
The  Lord,  turning  to  her  with  sweetness,  consoled  her 
by  saying:  "Thy  sins  are  forgiven  ;...  thy  faith  hath 
made  thee  safe ;  go  in  peace."  (Luke  vii.  48  and  50.) 
Child,  thy  sins  are  pardoned  ;  thy  confidence  in  me  has 
saved  thee  ;  go  in  peace.     It  was  also  felt  by  the  man 
who  was  sick  for  thirty- eight  years,  and  who  was  infirm, 
both  in  body  and  soul.     The  Lord  cured  his  malady, 
and  pardoned  his  sins.     "  Behold,"  says  Jesus  to  him, 
"  thou  art  made  whole ;  sin  no  more,  lest  some  worse 
thing  happen  to  thee."  (John  v.  14.)     The  tenderness 
of  the  Redeemer  was  also  felt  by  the  leper  who  said  to 
Jesus  Christ:  "  Lord,  if  thou  wilt,  thou  canst  make  me 
clean."  (Matt.  viii.  2.)     Jesus  answered:  "I  will:  be 
thou  made  clean"  (v.  3).     As  if  he  said:  Yes;  I  will 
that  thou  be  made  clean  ;  for  I  have  come  down  from 
heaven  for  the  purpose  of  consoling  all :  be  healed,  then, 
according  to  thy  desire.     "  And  forthwith  his  leprosy 
was  cleansed." 

9.  We  have  also  a  proof  of  the  tender  compassion  of 
the  Son  of  God  for  sinners,  in  his  conduct  towards  the 
woman  caught  in  adultery.     The  scribes  and  pharisees 
brought  her  before  him,  and  said  :  "  This  woman  was 
even  now  taken  in  adultery.     Now  Moses,  in  the  law, 
commands  us  to  stone  such  a  one.     But  what  sayest 
thou  ?"  (John  viii.  4  and  5.)     And  this  they  did,  as  St. 
John  says,   tempting  him.     They  intended   to   accuse 
him  of  transgressing  the  law  of  Moses,  if  he  said  that 
she  ought  to  be  liberated ;  and  they  expected  to  destroy 
his  character  for  meekness,  if  he  said  that  she  should 
be  stoned.     "  Si  dicat  lapidandam,"  says  St.  Augustine, 
"  famam    perdet    mansuetudinis  ;    sin    dimmitteudam, 
transgressa3  legis  accusabitur."  (Tract,  xxxiii.  in  Joan.) 


COMPASSION    OF    CHRIST.  137 

But  what  was  the  answer  of  our  Lord  ?  He  neither 
said  that  she  should  be  stoned  nor  dismissed ;  but, 
"  bowing  himself  down,  he  wrote  with  his  finger  on  the 
ground."  The  interpreters  say  that,  probably,  what  he 
wrote  on  the  ground  was  a  text  of  Scripture  admonishing 
the  accusers  of  their  own  sins,  which  were,  perhaps, 
greater  than  that  of  the  woman  charged  with  adultery. 
"  He  then  lifted  himself  up,  and  said  to  them :  '  He  that 
is  without  sin  among  you,  let  him  first  cast  a  stone  at 
her' "  (v .  7).  The  scribes  and  pharisees  went  away  one 
by  one,  and  the  woman  stood  alone.  Jesus  Christ, 
turning  to  her,  said:  "Hath  no  one  condemned  thee  ? 
neither  will  I  condemn  thee.  Go,  and  now  sin  no 
more"  (v.  11).  Since  no  one  has  condemned  you,  fear 
not  that  you  shall  be  condemned  by  me,  who  hath  come  on 
earth,  not  to  condemn,  but  to  pardon  and  save  sinners: 
go  in  peace,  and  sin  no  more. 

10.  Jesus  Christ  has  come,  not  to  condemn,  but  to 
deliver  sinners  from  hell,   as  soon  as  they  resolve  to 
amend  their  lives.     And  when  he  sees  them  obstinately 
bent  on  their  own  perdition,  he  addresses  them  with 
tears  in  the  words  of  Ezechiel :  "  Why  will  you  die,  O 
house  of  Israel?"  (xviii.  31).     My  children,  why  will 
you  die  ?      Why  do  you   voluntarily   rush   into   hell, 
when  I  have  come  from  heaven  to  deliver  you  from  it 
by  death  ?     He  adds  :  you  are  already  dead  to  the  grace 
of  God.     But  I  will  not  your  death:  return  to  me,  and 
I  will  restore  to  you  the  life  which  you  have  lost.    "For 
I  desire  not  the  death  of  him  that  dieth,  saith  the  Lord 
God:  return  ye  and  live"  (v.  32).     But  some  sinners, 
who  are  immersed  in  the  abyss  of  sin,  may  say:  Perhaps, 
if  we  return  to  Jesus  Christ,  he  will  drive  us  away. 
No  ;  for  the  Redeemer  has  said:  "  And  him  that  cometh 
to  me  I  will  not  cast  out."  (John  vi.  37.)     No  one  that 
comes  to  me  with  sorrow  for  his  past  sins,  however 
manifold  and  enormous  they  may  have  been,  shall  be 
rejected. 

11.  Behold  how,   in   another   place,   the   Redeemer 
encourages  us  to  throw  ourselves  at  his  feet  with   a 
secure  hope  of  consolation  and  pardon.     "  Come  to  me, 
all  you  that  labour  and  are  burdened,  and  I  will  refresh 
you."  (Matt.  xi.  28.)     Come  to  me,  all  ye  poor  sinners, 


138 


SERMON   XIX. 


who  labour  for  your  own  damnation,  and  groan  under 
the  weight  of  your  crimes  ;  come,  and  I  will  deliver  you 
from  all  your  troubles.  Again,  he  says,  "  Come  and 
accuse  me,  saith  the  Lord  ;  if  your  sins  be  as  scarlet, 
they  shall  be  made  white  as  snow  ;  and  if  they  be  red  as 
crimson,  they  shall  be  made  white  as  wool."  (Isa.  i.  18.) 
Come  with  sorrow  for  the  offences  you  committed  against 
me,  and  if  I  do  not  give  you  pardon,  accuse  me.  As  if 
he  said :  upbraid  me ;  rebuke  me  as  a  liar;  for  I  promise 
that,  though  your  sins  were  of  scarlet — that  is,  of  the 
most  horrid  enormity — your  soul,  by  my  blood,  in  which 
I  sli all  wash  it,  will  become  white  and  beautiful  as 
snow. 

1'J.  Let  us  then,  0  sinners,  return  instantly  to  Jesus 
Christ.  If  we  have  left  him,  let  us  immediately  return, 
before  death  overtakes  us  in  sin  and  sends  us  to  hell, 
where  the  mercies  and  graces  of  the  Lord  shall,  if  we  do 
not  amend,  be  so  many  swords  which  shall  lacerate  the 
heart  for  all  eternity. 


SERMON  XIX.— PASSION  SUNDAY. 
On  the  danger  to  which  tepidity  exposes  the  soul. 

"But  Jesus  hid  himself."— JOHN  viii.  59. 

JESUS  CHRIST  "is  the  true  light  which  enlighteneth 
every  man  that  cometh  into  this  world.''  (John  i.  9.) 
He  enlightens  all ;  but  he  cannot  enlighten  those  who 
voluntarily  shut  their  eyes  to  the  light ;  from  them  the 
Saviour  hides  himself.  How  then  can  they,  walking  in 
darkness,  escape  the  many  dangers  of  perdition  to  which 
we  are  exposed  in  this  life,  which  God  has  given  us  as 
the  road  to  eternal  happiness  ?  I  will  endeavour  to-day 
to  convince  you  of  the  great  danger  into  which  tepidity 
brings  the  soul,  since  it  makes  Jesus  Christ  hide  his 
divine  light  from  her,  and  makes  him  less  liberal  in 
bestowing  upon  her  the  graces  and  helps,  without  which 
she  shall  find  it  very  difficult  to  complete  the  journey 
of  this  life  without  falling  into  an  abyss — that  is,  into 
mortal  sin. 

1.  A  tepid  soul  is  not  one  that  lives  in  enmity  with 


DANGER    OF    TEPIDITY.  139 

God,  nor  one  that  sometimes  commits  venial  sins 
through  mere  frailty,  and  not  with  full  deliberation. 
On  account  of  the  corruption  of  nature  by  original  sin, 
no  man  can  be  exempt  from  such  venial  faults.  This 
corruption  of  nature  renders  it  impossible  for  us,  without 
a  most  special  grace,  which  has  been  given  only  to  the 
mother  of  God,  to  avoid  all  venial  sins  during  our  whole 
lives.  Hence  St.  John  has  said:  "If  we  say  that  we 
have  no  sin,  we  deceive  ourselves,  and  the  truth  is  not 
in  us."  (1  John  i.  8.)  God  permits  defects  of  this  kind, 
even  in  the  saints,  to  keep  them  humble,  and  to  make 
them  feel  that,  as  they  commit  such  faults  in  spite  of  all 
their  good  purposes  and  promises,  so  also,  were  they  not 
supported  by  his  divine  hand,  they  would  fall  into  mortal 
sins.  Hence,  when  wre  find  that  we  have  committed 
these  light  faults,  we  must  humble  ourselves,  and 
acknowledging  our  own  weakness,  we  must  be  careful  to 
recommend  ourselves  to  God,  and  implore  of  him  to 
preserve  us,  by  his  almighty  hand,  from  more  grievous 
transgressions,  and  to  deliver  us  from  those  wre  have 
committed. 

2.  What  then  are  we  to  understand  by  a  tepid  soul  ? 
A  tepid  soul  is  one  that  frequently  falls  into  fully  deli 
berate   venial  sins — such  as  deliberate   lies,   deliberate 
acts  of  impatience,  deliberate  imprecations,  and  the  like. 
These  faults  may  be  easily  avoided  by  those  who  are 
resolved  to  suffer  death  rather  than  commit  a  deliberate 
venial  offence  against  God.     St.  Teresa   used   to   say, 
that  one  venial  sin  does  us  more  harm  than  all  the  devils 
in   hell.     Hence   she   would   say   to   her    mms :  "  My 
children,  from  deliberate  sin,  however  venial  it  may  be, 
may  the  Lord  deliver  you."     Some  complain  of  being 
left  in  aridity  and  dryness,  and  without  any  spiritual 
sweetness.     But  how  can  we  expect  that  God  will  be 
liberal  of  his  favours  to  us,  when  we  are  ungenerous  to 
him  ?     We  know  that  such  a  lie,  such  an  imprecation, 
such  an  injury  to  our  neighbour,  and  such  detraction, 
though  not  mortal  sins,  are  displeasing  to  God,  and  still 
we  do  not  abstain  from  them.     Why  then  should  we 
expect  that  God  will  give  us  his  divine  consolations  ? 

3.  But  some  of  you  will  say  :  Venial  sins,  however 
great  they  may  be,  do  not  deprive  the  soul  of  the  grace 


140  SERMON   XIX. 


of  God :  even  though  I  commit  them  I  will  he  saved  ; 
and  for  me  it  is  enough  to  obtain  eternal  life.  You  say 
that,  "  for  you  it  is  enough  to  be  saved."  Remember  that 
St.  Augustine  says  that,  "  where  you  have  said,  *  It  is 
enough/  there  you  have  perished."  To  understand  cor 
rectly  the  meaning  of  these  words  of  St.  Augustine,  and 
to  see  the  danger  to  which  the  state  of  tepidity  exposes 
those  who  commit  habitual  and  deliberate  venial  sins, 
without  feeling  remorse  for  them,  and  without  endea 
vouring  to  avoid  them,  it  is  necessary  to  know  that  the 
habit  of  light  faults  leads  the  soul  insensibly  to  mortal 
sins.  For  example  :  the  habit  of  venial  acts  of  aversion 
leads  to  mortal  hatred  ;  the  habit  of  small  thefts  leads 
to  grievous  rapine  ;  the  habit  of  venial  attachments  leads 
to  affections  which  are  mortally  sinful.  "  The  soul," 
says  St.  Gregory,  "  never  lies  where  it  falls."  (Moral.,  lib. 
xxxi.)  No  ;  it  continues  to  sink  still  deeper.  Mortal 
diseases  do  not  generally  proceed  from  serious  indis 
position,  but  from  many  slight  and  continued  infirmities  ; 
so,  likewise,  the  fall  of  many  souls  into  mortal  sin 
follows  from  habitual  venial  sins  ;  for  these  render  the 
soul  so  weak  that,  when  a  strong  temptation  assails  her, 
she  has  not  strengh  to  resist  it,  and  she  falls. 

4.  Many  are  unwilling  to  be  separated  from  God  by 
mortal  sins  ;  they  wish  to  follow  him,  but  at  a  distance, 
and  regardless  of  venial  sins.     But  to  them  shall  pro 
bably  happen  what  befel  St.  Peter.     When  Jesus  Christ 
was  seized  in  the  garden,   St.  Peter  was  unwilling  to 
abandon  the  Lord,  but  "followed  him  afar  off."  (Matt. 
xxvi.  58.)     After  entering  the  house  of  Caiphas,  he  was 
charged  with  being  a  disciple  of  Jesus  Christ.     He  was 
instantly  seized  with  fear,  and  three  times  denied  his 
Master.     The  Holy  Ghost  says  :  "  He  that  contemneth 
small  things  shall  fall  by  little  and  little."  (Eccl.  xix.  1.) 
They  who  despise  small  falls  will  probably  one  day  fall 
into  an  abyss  ;  for,  being  in  the  habit  of  committing 
light   offences   against   God,    they   will   feel   but   little 
repugnance  to  offer  to  him  some  grievous  insult. 

5.  The  Lord  says  :  "  Catch  us  the  little  foxes  that 
destroy  the  vines."  (Cant.  ii.  15.)    He  does  not  tell  us  to 
-catch  the  lions  or  the  bears,  but  the  little  foxes.     Lions 
and  bears  strike  terror,  and  therefore  all  are  careful  to 


DANGER   OF   TEPIDITY.  141 

keep  at  a  distance  through  fear  of  being  devoured  by 
them;  but  the  little  foxes,  though  they  do  not  excite 
dismay,  destroy  the  vine  by  drying  up  its  roots.  Mortal 
sin  terrifies  the  timorous  soul ;  but,  if  she  accustom  her 
self  to  the  commission  of  many  venial  sins  with  full 
deliberation,  and  without  endeavouring  to  correct  them, 
they,  like  the  little  foxes,  shall  destroy  the  roots — that 
is,  the  remorse  of  conscience,  the  fear  of  offending  God, 
and  the  holy  desires  of  advancing  in  divine  love ;  and 
thus,  being  in  a  state  of  tepidity,  and  impelled  to  sin  by 
some  passion,  the  soul  will  easily  abandon  God  and  lose 
the  divine  grace. 

6.  Moreover,  deliberate  and  habitual  venial  sins  not 
only  deprive  us  of  strength  to  resist  temptations,  but  also 
of  the  special  helps  without  which  we  fall  into  grievous 
sins.     Be  attentive,    brethren ;    for  this  is  a  point  of 
great  importance.     It  is  certain,  that  of  ourselves  we 
have  not  sufficient  strength  to  resist  the  temptations  of 
the  devil,  of  the  flesh,  and  of  the  world.     It  is  God  that 
prevents  our  enemies  from  assailing  us  with  temptations 
by  which  we  would  be  conquered.      Hence  Jesus  Christ 
has  taught  us  the  following  prayer:  "  And  lead  us  not 
into  temptation."     He  teaches  us  to  pray  that  God  may 
deliver  us  from  the  temptations   to   which  we   would 
yield,  and  thus  lose  his  grace.     Wow,  venial  sins,  when 
they  are  deliberate  and  habitual,  deprive  us  of  the  special 
helps  of  God  which  are  necessary  for  preservation  in  his 
grace.     I  say  necessary,  because  the  Council  of  Trent 
anathematizes  those  who  assert  that  we  can  persevere  in 
grace  without   a   special   help    from   God.       "  Si   quis 
dixerit,   justificatum   vel   sine   speciali   auxilio   Dei   in 
accepta  justitia  perseverare  posse,  vel  cum  eo  non  posse  ; 
anathema  sit."  (Sess.   6,   can.   xxii.)      Thus,   with  the 
ordinary  assistance  of  God,  we  cannot  avoid  falling  into 
some  mortal  sin :  a  special  aid  is  necessary.     But  this 
special  aid  God  will  justly  withhold  from  tepid  souls 
who  are  regardless  of  committing,  with  full  deliberation, 
many  venial  sins.     Thus  these  unhappy  souls  shall  not 
persevere  in  grace. 

7.  They  who  are  ungenerous  to  God  well   deserve 
that  God  should  not  be  liberal  to  them.     "He  who 
soweth  sparingly,  shall  also   reap  sparingly."  (2  Cor. 


142 


SERMON    XIX. 


ix.  6.)  To  such  souls  the  Lord  will  give  the  graces 
common  to  all,  but  will  probably  withhold  his  special 
assistance  ;  and  without  this,  as  we  have  seen,  they 
cannot  persevere  without  falling  into  mortal  sin.  God 
'  himself  revealed  to  B.  Henry  Suson,  that,  for  tepid 
souls  who  are  content  with  leading  a  life  exempt  from 
mortal  sin,  and  continue  to  commit  many  deliberate 
venial  sins,  it  is  very  difficult  to  preserve  themselves  in 
the  state  of  grace.  The  venerable  Lewis  da  Ponte  used 
to  say:  "I  commit  many  defects,  but  I  never  make 
peace  with  them."  Woe  to  him  who  is  at  peace  with 
his  faults  !  St.  Bernard  teaches  that,  as  long  as  a  person 
who  is  guilty  of  defects  detests  his  faults,  there  is  reason 
to  hope  that  he  will  one  day  correct  them  and  amend 
his  life :  but  when  he  commits  faults  without  endeavour 
ing  to  amend,  he  will  continually  go  from  bad  to  worse, 
till  he  loses  the  grace  of  God.  St.  Augustine  says  that, 
like  a  certain  disease  of  the  skin  which  makes  the  body 
an  object  of  disgust,  habitual  faults,  when  committed 
without  any  effort  of  amendment,  render  the  soul  so 
disgusting  to  God,  that  he  deprives  her  of  his  embraces. 
"  Sunt  velut  scabies,  et  nostrum  decus  ita  exterminant 
ut  a  sponsi  amplcxibus  separent."  (Horn.  1.,  cap.  iii.) 
Hence  the  soul,  finding  no  more  nourishment  and 
consolation  in  her  devout  exercises,  in  her  prayers, 
communions,  or  visits  to  the  blessed  sacrament,  will 
soon  neglect  ^them,  and  thus  neglecting  the  means  of 
eternal  salvation,  she  shall  be  in  great  danger  of  being 
lost. 

8.  This  danger  will  be  still  greater  for  those  who 
commit  many  venial  sins  through  attachment  to  any 
passion,  such  as  pride,  ambition,  aversion  to  a  neigh 
bour,  or  an  inordinate  affection  for  any  person.  1st. 
Francis  of  Assisium  says  that,  in  endeavouring  to  draw 
to  sin  a  soul  that  is  afraid  of  being  in  enmity  with  God, 
the  devil  does  not  seek  in  the  beginning  to  bind  her 
with  the  chain  of  a  slave,  by  tempting  her  to  commit 
mortal  sin,  Because  she  would  have  a  horror  of  yielding 
to  mortal  sin,  and  would  guard  herself  against  it.  He 
first  endeavours  to  bind  her  by  a  single  hair  ;  then  by  a 
slender  thread  ;  next  by  a  cord  ;  afterwards  by  a  rope  ; 
and  in  the  end  by  a  chain  of  hell — that  is,  by  mortal 


DANGER    OF    TEPIDITY.  143 

sin  ;  and  thus  he  makes  her  his  slave.  For  example  : 
A  person  cherishes  an  affection  for  a  female  through  a 
motive  of  courtesy  or  of  gratitude,  or  from  an  esteem 
for  her  good  qualities.  This  affection  is  followed  by 
mutual  presents  ;  to  these  succeed  words  of  tenderness  ; 
and  after  the  first  violent  assault  of  the  devil,  the 
miserable  man  shall  find  that  he  has  fallen  into  mortal 
sin.  He  meets  with  the  fate  of  gamesters,  who,  after 
frequently  losing  large  sums  of  money,  yield  to  an 
impulse  of  passion,  risk  their  all,  and,  in  the  end,  lose 
their  entire  property. 

9.  Miserable  the  soul  that  allows  herself  to  be  the 
slave  of  any  passion.     "  Behold,  how  small  a  fire  what 
a  great  wood  it  kindleth."   (St.  James  iii.  5.)     A  small 
spark,  if  it  be  not  extinguished,  will  set  fire  to  an  entire 
wood ;  that  is,   an  unmodified  passion  shall  bring  the 
soul  to  ruin.     Passion  blinds  us ;  and  the  blind  often  fall 
into  an  abyss  when  they  least  expect  it.     According  to 
St.   Ambrose,   the  devil  is  constantly  endeavouring  to 
find  out  the  passion  which  rules  in  our  heart,  and  the 
pleasures   which   have  the  greatest  attraction    for    us. 
When   he   discovers   them,    he    presents   occasions    of 
indulging   them :   he   then   excites   concupiscence,    and 
prepares  a  chain  to  make  us  the  slaves  of  hell.     "  Tune 
maxime  insidiatur  adversarius  quando  videt  in   nobis 
passiones  aliquas  generari :  tune  tbmites  movet,  laqueos 
parat." 

10.  St.   Chrysostom   asserts,    that   he   himself  knew 
many  persons  who  were  gifted  with  great  virtues,  and 
who,  because  they  disregarded  light  faults,  fell  into  an 
abyss  of  crime.     When   the   devil   cannot  gain  much 
from  us,  he  is  in  the  beginning  content  with  the  little  ; 
by  many  trifling  victories  he  will  make  a  great  conquest. 
No  one,  says  St.  Bernard,  suddenly  falls  from  the  state 
of  grace  into  the  abyss  of  wickedness.     They  who  rush 
into  the  most  grievous  irregularities,  begin  by  committing 
light^faults.     "Nemo  repente  fit  turpissimus  :  a  minimis 
incipiunt  qui  in  maxima   proruunt."    (Tract   de   Ord. 
vita3.)     It  is  necessary  also  to  understand  that,  when 
a  soul  that  has  been  favoured  by   God  with   special 
lights  and  graces,  consents  to  mortal  sin,  her  fall  shall 
not  be  a  simple  fall,  from  which  she  will  easily  rise 


144 


SERMON    XIX. 


again,  but  it  will  be  a  precipitous  one,  from  which  she 
will  find  it  very  difficult  to  return  to  God. 

11.  Addressing  a  person  in  the  state  of  tepidity,  our 
Lord  said  :  "  I  would  that  thou  wert  cold  or  hot ;  but 
because  thou  art  luke-warm,  and  neither  hot  nor  cold,  I 
will  begin  to  vomit  thee  out  of  my  mouth."  (Apoc.  iii. 
15,  16.)     "  I  would  thou  wert  cold"— that  is,  it  would 
be  better  for  thee  to  be  deprived  of  my  grace,  because 
there  should  then  be  greater  hopes  of  thy  amendment ; 
but,  because  thou  livest  in  tepidity,  without  any  desire 
of  improvement,  "  I  will  begin  to  vomit  thee  out  of  my 
mouth."     By  these  words  he  means,  that  he  will  begin 
to  abandon  the  soul  ;  for,  what  is  vomited,  is  taken  back 
only  with  great  horror. 

12.  A  certain  author  says,  that  tepidity  is  a  hectic 
fever,  which  does  not  excite  alarm,  because  it  is  not 
perceived  ;  but  it  is,  at  the  same  time,  so  malignant  that 
it  is  rarely  cured.     The  comparison  is  very  just;  for 
tepidity  makes  the  soul  insensible  to  remorses  of  con 
science  ;  and,  as  she  is  accustomed  to  feel  no  remorse 
for  venial  faults,  she  will  by  degrees  become  insensible 
to  the  stings  of  remorse  which  arise  from  mortal  sins. 

13.  Let  us  come  to  the  remedy.     The  amendment  of 
a  tepid  soul  is  difficult ;  but  there  are  remedies  for  those 
who  wish  to  adopt  them.     First,  the  tepid  must  sincerely 
desire  to  be  delivered  from  a  state  which,  as  we  have 
seen,  is  so  miserable  and  dangerous ;  for,  without  this 
desire,  they  shall  not  take  pains  to  employ  the  proper 
means.      {Secondly,  they  must  resolve   to  remove  the 
occasions  of  their  faults ;    otherwise  they  will  always 
relapse   into   the    same   defects.      Thirdly,   they   must 
earnestly   beg   of  the   Lord    to    raise    them    from    so 
wretched  a  state.     By  their  own  strength  they  can  do 
nothing  ;  but  they  can  do  all  things  with  the  assistance 
of  God,  who  has  promised  to  hear  the  prayers  of  all. 
"  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given  ;  seek,  and  you  shall  find." 
(Luke  xi.  9.)     We  must  pray,   and  continue  to  pray 
without  interruption.     If  we  cease  to  pray  we  shall  be 
defeated ;    but    if    we    persevere    in   prayer  we   shall 
conquer. 


EVIL    KFFKCTS    OF    BAD    HABITS.  145 

SERMON  XX.— PALM  SUNDAY. 

On  the  evil  effects  of  bad  habits. 

•'  Go  ye  into  the  village  that  is  over  against  you,  and  immediately  you 
shall  find  an  ass  tied."— MATT.  xxi.  2. 

WISHING  to  enter  Jerusalem,  to  be  there  acknowledged 
as  the  promised  Messiah  sent  by  God  for  the  salvation 
of  the  world,  the  Saviour  said  to  his  disciples :  "  Go  to 
a  certain  village,  and  you  will  find  an  ass  tied,  and  a 
colt  with  her  ;  loose  them,  and  bring  them  to  me." 
"  The  ass  which  was  tied,"  says  St.  Bonaventure, 
"  denotes  a  sinner."  This  exposition  is  conformable  to 
the  doctrine  of  the  Wise  Man,  who  says,  that  the 
wicked  are  bound  by  the  chains  of  their  own  sins. 
"His  own  iniquities  catch  the  wicked,  and  he  is  fast 
bound  with  the  rope  of  his  own  sins."  (Prov.  v.  22.) 
But,  as  Jesus  Christ  could  not  sit  on  the  ass  before  she 
was  loosed,  so  he  cannot  dwell  in  a  soul  bound  with 
her  own  iniquities.  If,  then,  brethren,  there  be  among 
you  a  soul  bound  by  any  bad  habit,  let  her  attend  to 
the  admonition  which  the  Lord  addresses  to  her  this 
morning.  "  Loose  the  bond  from  off  thy  neck,  0  cap 
tive  daughter  of  Sion."  (Isa.  Hi.  2.)  Loose  the  bonds 
of  your  sins,  which  make  you  the  slave  of  Satan. 
Loose  the  bonds  before  the  habit  of  sin  gains  such  power 
over  you,  as  to  render  your  conversion  morally  impos 
sible,  and  thus  to  bring  you  to  eternal  perdition.  This 
morning  I  will  show,  in  three  points,  the  evil  effects  of 
bad  habits. 

First  Point. — A  bad  habit  blinds  the  understanding. 
Second  Point. — It  hardens  the  heart. 
Third  Point. — It  diminishes  our  strength. 

First  Point. — A  bad  habit  blinds  the  understanding. 

1.  Of  those  who  live  in  the  habit  of  sin,  St.  Augus 
tine  says  :  "  Ipsa  consuetudo  non  sinit  videre  malum, 
quod  faciunt."  The  habit  of  sin  blinds  sinners,  so  that 
they  no  longer  see  the  evil  which  they  do,  nor  the  ruin 


146  SERMON    XX. 


which  they  "bring  upon  themselves  ;  hence  they  live  in 
blindness,  as  if  there  was  neither  God,  nor  heaven,  nor 
hell,  nor  eternity.  "  Sins,"  adds  the  saint,  "  however 
enormous,  when  habitual,  appear  to  be  small,  or  not  to 
be  sins  at  all."  How  then  can  the  soul  guard  against 
them,  when  she  is  no  longer  sensible  of  their  deformity, 
or  the  evil  which  they  bring  upon  her? 

2.  St.  Jerome  says,  that  habitual  sinners  "  are  not 
even  ashamed  of  their  crimes."  Bad  actions  naturally 
produce  a  certain  shame  ;  but  this  feeling  is  destroyed 
by  the  habit  of  sin.  St.  Peter  compares  habitual  sinners 
to  swine  wallowing  in  mire.  "  The  sow  that  was  washed 
is  returned  to  her  wallowing  in  the  mire."  (2  Pet.  ii. 
"2 '2.)  The  very  mire  of  sin  blinds  them  ;  and,  therefore, 
instead  of  feeling  sorrow  and  shame  at  their  unclean- 
ness,  they  revel  and  exult  in  it.  "  A  fool  worketh 
mischief  as  it  were  for  sport."  (Prov.  x.  23.)  "  Who  are 
glad  when  they  have  done  evil."  (Prov.  ii.  14.)  Hence 
the  saints  continually  seek  light  from  God  ;  for  they 
know  that,  should  he  withdraw  his  light,  they  may 
become  the  greatest  of  sinners.  How,  then,  do  so  many 
Christians,  who  know  by  faith  that  there  is  a  hell,  and 
a  just  God,  who  cannot  but  chastise  the  wicked,  how,  I 
say,  do  they  continue  to  live  in  sin  till  death,  and  thus 
bring  themselves  to  perdition  ?  "  Their  own  malice 
blinded  them."  (Wis.  ii,  21.)  Sin  blinds  them,  and  thus 
they  are  lost. 

3.  Job  says,  that  habitual  sinners  are  full  of  iniquities. 
"  His  bones  shall  be  filled  with  the  vices  of  his  youth." 
(xx.  11.)  Every  sin  produces  darkness  in  the  under 
standing.  Hence,  the  more  sins  are  multiplied  by  a  bad 
habit,  the  greater  the  blindness  they  cause.  The  light 
of  the  sun  cannot  enter  a  vessel  filled  with  clay  ;  and  a 
heart  full  of  vices  cannot  admit  the  light  of  God,  which 
would  make  visible  to  the  soul  the  abyss  into  which  she 
is  running.  Bereft  of  light,  the  habitual  sinner  goes  on 
from  sin  to  sin,  without  ever  thinking  of  repentance. 
"  The  wicked  walk  round  about,"  (Ps.  xi.  9.)  Fallen 
into  the  dark  pit  of  evil  habits,  he  thinks  only  of  sin 
ning,  he  speaks  only  of  sins,  and  no  longer  sees  the 
evil  of  sin.  In  fine,  he  becomes  like  a  brute  devoid  of 
reason,  and  seeks  and  desires  only  what  pleases  the 


EVIL    KFFKCTS    OF    BAD    HABITS.  147 


senses.  "  And  man,  when  he  was  in  honour,  did  not 
understand  :  he  is  compared  to  senseless  beasts,  and  is 
become  like  to  them/'  (Ps.  xlviii.  13.)  Hence  the  words 
of  the  Wise  Man  are  fulfilled  with  regard  to  habitual 
sinners.  "  The  wicked  man  when  he  comes  into  the 
depth  of  sin,  contemneth."  (Prov.  xviii.  3.)  This  passage 
St.  Chrysostom  applies  to  habitual  sinners,  who,  shut  up 
in  a  pit  of  darkness,  despise  sermons,  calls  of  God,  ad 
monitions,  censures,  hell,  and  God,  and  become  like  the 
vulture  that  waits  to  be  killed  by  the  fowler,  rather  than 
abandon  the  corrupt  carcass  on  which  it  feeds. 

4.  Brethren,   let  us  tremble,  as  David  did  when  he 
said  :  "  Let  not  the  tempests  of  water  drown  me,  nor  the 
deep  swallow  me  up;  and  let  not  the  pit  shut  her  mouth 
upon  me."  (Ps.  Ixviii.  16.)     Should  a  person  fall  into  a 
pit,  there  is  hope  of  deliverance  as  long  as  the  mouth  of 
the  pit  is  not  closed  ;  but  as  soon  as  it  is  shut,  he  is  lost. 
When  a  sinner  falls  into  a  bad  habit,  the  mouth  of  the 
pit  is  gradually  closed  as  his  sins  are  multiplied  ;  the 
moment  the  mouth  of  the  pit  is  shut,  he  is  abandoned 
by  God.     Dearly  beloved  sinners,  if  you  have  contracted 
a  habit  of  any  sin,  endeavour  instantly  to  go  out  of  that 
pit  of  hell,  before  God  shall  deprive  you  entirely  of  his 
light,  and  abandon  you  ;  for,  as  soon  as  he  abandons 
you  by  the  total  withdrawal  of  his  light,  all  is  over,  and 
you  are  lost. 

Second  Point. — A  bad  habit  hardens  the  heart. 

5.  The  habit  of  sin  not  only  blinds  the  understand 
ing,  but   also  hardens  the  heart  of  the  sinner.     "  His 
heart  shall  be  as  hard  as  a  stone,  and  as  firm  as  a  smith's 
anvil."  (Job  xli.  15.)     By  the  habit  of  sin  the  heart 
becomes  like  a  stone  ;  and,  as  the  anvil  is  hardened  by 
repeated  strokes  of  the  hammer,  so,  instead  of  being 
softened  by  divine  inspirations  or  by  instructions,  the 
soul  of  the  habitual  sinner  is  rendered  more  obdurate 
by  sermons  on  the  judgment  of  God,  on  the  torments 
of  the  damned,  and  on  the  passion  of  Jesus  Christ:  "his 
heart  shall  be  firm  as  a  smith's  anvil."     "Their  heart," 
says  St.  Augustine,  "is  hardened  against  the  dew  of 
grace,  so^as  to  produce  no  fruit."     Divine  calls,  remorses 
of  conscience,  terrors  of  Divine  justice,  are  showers  of 


148  SERMON    XX. 

divine  grace  ;  but  when,  instead  of  drawing  fruit  from 
these  divine  blessings,  the  habitual  sinner  continues  to 
commit  sin,  he  hardens  his  heart,  and  thus,  according  to 
St.  Thomas  of  Yillanova,  he  gives  a  sign  of  his  certain 
damnation — "  Induratio  damnationis  indicium;" — for, 
from  the  loss  of  God's  light,  and  the  hardness  of  his 
heart,  the  sinner  will,  according  to  the  terrible  threat  of 
the  Holy  Ghost,  remain  obstinate  till  death.  "  A  hard 
heart  shall  fare  evil  at  the  end."  (Eccl.  iii.  27.) 

6.  Of  what  use  are  confessions,  when,  in  a  short  time 
after  them,  the  sinner  returns  to  the  same  vices  ?     "  He 
who  strikes  his  breast,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  and  does 
not  amend,   confirms,  but  does   not   take    away  sins." 
When  you  strike  your  breast  in  the  tribunal  of  penance, 
but  do  not  amend  and  remove  the  occasions  of  sin,  you 
then,  according  to  the  saint,  do  not  take  away  your  sins, 
but  you  make  them  more  firm  and  permanent ;  that  is, 
you   render   yourself  more   obstinate   in    sin.       "  The 
wicked  walk  round  about."  (Ps.   xi.  9.)     Such  is  the 
unhappy  life  of  habitual  sinners.     They  go  round  about 
from  sin  to  sin  ;    and  if  they  abstain  for  a  little,  they 
immediately,  at  the  first  occasion  of  temptation,  return 
to  their  former  iniquities.     St.  Bernard  regards  as  certain 
the  damnation  of  such  sinners :  "  Ya3  homini,  qui  sequitur 
hunc  circuitum."  (Serm.  xii.  sup.  Psalmos.) 

7.  But  some  young  persons  may  say  :  I  will  hereafter 
amend,   and  sincerely  give  myself  to   God.     But,  if  a 
habit  of  sin  takes  possession  of  you,  when  will   you 
amend  ?     The  Holy  Ghost  declares,  that  a  young  man 
who  contracts  an  evil  habit  will  not  relinquish  it  even 
in  his  old  age.     A  young  man,  according  to   his  way, 
even  when  he  is  old,  he  will  not  depart  from  it.  (Prov. 
xxii.  G.)     Habitual  sinners  have  been  known  to  yield, 
even  at  the  hour  of  death,  to  the  sins  which  they  have 
been  in  the   habit  of  committing.      Father   Kecupito 
relates,  that  a  person  condemned  to  death,  even  while  he 
was  going  to  the  place  of  execution,  raised  his  eyes,  saw 
a  young  female,  and  consented  to  a  bad  thought.     We 
read  in  a  work  of  Father  Gisolfo,  that  a  certain  blas 
phemer,  who  had  been  likewise  condemned  to  death, 
when  thrown  off  the  scaffold,  broke  out  into  a  blasphemy, 
and  died  in  that  miserable  state. 


! 


EVIL    EFFECTS    OF    BAD    HABITS.  149 

8.  "  He  hath  mercy  on  whom  he  will,  and  whom  he 
will  he  hardeneth."  (Rom.  ix.  18.)     God  shows  mercy 
for  a  certain  time,  and  then  he  hardens  the  heart  of  the 
sinner.     How  does  God  harden  the  hearts  of  sinners  ? 
St.    Augustine    answers  :     "  Obduratio    Dei    est    non 
misereri."    The  Lord  does  not  directly  harden  the  hearts 
of  habitual  sinners;  but,  in  punishment  of  their  ingrati 
tude  for  his  benefits,  he  withdraws  from  them  his  graces, 
and  thus  their  hearts  are  hardened,  and  become  like  a 
stone.     "  God  does  not  harden  the  heart  by  imparting 
malice,  but  by  withholding  mercy."    God  does  not  render 
sinners  obdurate   by  infusing  the  malice  of  obstinacy, 
but  by  not  giving  them  the  efficacious  graces  by  which 
they  would  be  converted.     By  the  withdrawal  of  the 
sun's  heat  from  the  earth,  water  is  hardened  into  ice. 

9.  St.  Bernard  teaches,  that  hardness  or  obstinacy  of 
heart  does  not  take  place  suddenly;  but,  by  degrees  the 
soul  becomes  insensible  to  the  divine  threats,  and  more 
obstinate  by  divine  chastisements.    "  Paulatim  in  cordis 
dulitiam   itur;    cor   durum   non   minis   cedit,    flagellis 
duratur."     In  habitual  sinners  are  verified  the  words  of 
David,   "  And  thy  rebuke,  0  God  of  Jacob,  they  have 
slumbered."  (Ps.  Ixxv.  7.)     Even  earthquakes,  thunders, 
and  sudden  deaths  do  not  terrify  an  habitual  sinner. 
Instead  of  awakening  him  to  a  sense  of  his  miserable 
state,  they  rather  bring  on  that  deadly  sleep  in  which  he 
slumbers  and  is  lost. 

Third  Point. — A  bad  habit  diminishes  our  strength. 

10.  "  He  hath  torn  me  with  wound  upon  wound  ;  he 
hath  rushed  in  upon  me  like  a  giant."  (Job  xvi.  15.)  On 
this  text  St.  Gregory  reasons  thus:  A  person  assailed  by 
an  enemy,  is  rendered  unable  to  defend  himself  by  the 
first  wound  which  he  receives  ;  but,  should  he  receive  a 
second  and  third,  his  strength  will  be  so  much  exhausted, 
that  death  will  be  the  consequence.     It  is  so  with  sin  : 
after  the  first  and  second  wound  which  it  inflicts  on  the 
soul,  she  shall  still  have  some  strength,  but  only  through 
the   divine  grace.     But,  if  she  continue  to  indulge  in 
vice,  sin,  becoming  habitual,  rushes  upon  her  like  a  giant 
and  leaves  her  without  any  power  to  resist  it.     St.  Ber 
nard  compares  the  habitual  sinner  to  a  person  who  has 


150  SERMON    XX. 


fallen  under  a  large  stone,  which  he  is  unable  to  remove. 
A  person  in  such  a  case  will  rise  only  with  difficulty. 
"  The  man  on  whom  the  weight  of  a  bad  habit  presses, 
rises  with  difficulty."  St.  Gregory  says  :  "  Lapis  super- 
pc  situs,  cum  consuetudine  mens  in  peccato  demoratur 
ut  esti  velit  exsurgere,  jam  non  possit  quia  moles  desuper 
premit,"  (Moral,  lib.  26,  c.  xxiv.) 

11.  St.  Thomas  of  Villanova  teaches,  that  a  soul 
which  is  deprived  of  the  grace  of  God,  cannot  long 
abstain  from  new  sins.  "  Anima  a  gratia  destituta  diu 
evadere  ulteriora  pcccata  non  potest."  (Cone.  4  in  Dom. 
4  quadrages.)  In  expounding  the  words  of  David,  "  O 
my  God,  make  them  like  a  wheel,  and  as  a  stubble  before 
the  wind,"  (Ps.  Ixxxii.  14.)  St.  Gregory  says,  that  the 
man  who  struggled  for  a  time  before  he  fell  into  the 
habit  of  tin,  as  soon  as  he  contracts  the  habit,  yields  and 
yields  again  to  every  temptation,  with  as  much  facility 
as  a  straw  is  moved  by  the  slightest  blast  of  wind. 
Habitual  sinners,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  become 
so  weak  in  resisting  the  attacks  of  the  devil,  that, 
dragged  to  sin  by  their  evil  habit,  they  are  sometimes 
driven  to  sin  against  their  inclination.  "  Dura  res  est 
consuetudo,  quoenonnunquam  nolentes  committere  cogit 
illicita,"  Yes  ;  because,  as  St.  Augustine  says,  a  bad 
habit  in  the  course  of  time  brings  on  a  certain  necessity 
of  falling  into  sin.  "  Dum  consuetudini  non  resistitur, 
facta  est  necessitas." 

12.  St.  Bernardino  of  Sienna  says,  that  evil  habits 
are  changed  into  one's  nature.  "  Usus  veritur  in  na- 
tura."  Hence,  as  it  is  necessary  for  men  to  breathe,  so 
it  appears  that  it  becomes  necessary  for  habitual  sinners 
to  commit  sins.  They  are  thus  made  the  slave  of  sin. 
I  say,  the  slaves.  In  society  there  are  servants,  who 
serve  for  wages,  and  there  are  slaves,  who  serve  by 
force,  and  without  remuneration.  Having  sold  them 
selves  as  slaves  to  the  devil,  habitual  sinners  are  re 
duced  to  such  a  degree  of  slavery,  that  they  sometimes 
sin  without  pleasure,  and  sometimes  even  without  being 
in  the  occasion  of  sin.  St.  Bernardino  compares  them 
to  the  wings  of  a  windmill,  which  continue  to  turn  the 
mill  even  when  there  is  no  corn  to  be  ground  ;  that  is, 
they  continue  to  commit  sin,  at  least  by  indulging  bad 


EVIL    EFFECTS    OF    BAD    HABITS.  151 

thoughts,  even  when  there  is  no  occasion  of  sin  presented 
to  them.  The  unhappy  beings,  as  St.  Chrysostom  says, 
having  lost  the  divine  aid,  no  longer  do  what  they  wish 
themselves,  but  what  the  devil  wishes.  "Homo  per- 
dito  Dei  auxilio,  non  quod  vult  agit,  sed  quod  diabolus." 
13.  Listen  to  what  happened  in  a  city  in  Italy. 
A  certain  young  man,  who  had  contracted  a  vicious 
habit,  though  frequently  called  by  God,  and  admonished 
by  friends  to  amend  his  life,  continued  to  live  in  sin. 
One  day  he  saw  his  sister  suddenly  struck  dead.  He 
was  terrified  for  a  short  time ;  but  she  was  scarcely 
buried,  when  he  forgot  her  death  and  returned  to  the 
vomit.  In  two  months  after  he  was  confined  to  bed  by 
a  slow  fever.  He  then,  sent  for  a  confessor,  and  made 
his  confession.  But  after  all  this,  on  a  certain  day,  he 
exclaimed  :  Alas  !  how  late  have  I  known  the  rigour  of 
divine  justice  !  And  turning  to  his  physician,  he  said: 
Do  not  torment  me  any  longer  by  medicines  ;  for  my 
disease  is  incurable.  I  know  for  certain  that  it  will  bring 
me  to  the  grave.  And  to  his  friends,  who  stood  around, 
he  said :  As  for  the  life  of  this  body  of  mine  there  is  no 
remedy,  so  for  the  life  of  my  poor  soul  there  is  no  hope. 
I  expect  eternal  death.  God  has  abandoned  me ;  this 
I  see  in  the  hardness  of  my  heart.  Friends  and  religi 
ous  came  to  encourage  him  to  hope  in  the  mercy  of  God ; 
but  his  answer  to  all  their  exhortations  was,  God  has 
abandoned  me.  The  writer  who  relates  this  fact  says, 
that,  being  alone  with  the  young  man,  he  said  to  him : 
Have  courage  ;  unite  yourself  with  God  ;  receive  the 
viaticum.  Friend,  replied  the  young  man,  speak  to  a 
stone.  The  confession  which  I  have  made  has  been 
null  for  want  of  sorrow.  I  do  not  wish  for  a  confessor, 
nor  for  the  sacraments.  Do  not  bring  me  the  viaticum ; 
for,  should  you  bring  it,  I  will  do  that  which  must 
excite  borror.  He  then  went  away  quite  disconsolate  ; 
and  returning  to  see  the  young  man,  learned  from  his 
relatives  that  he  expired  during  the  night  without  the 
aid  of  a  priest,  and  that  near  his  room  frightful  howlings 
were  heard. 

14.  Behold  the  end  of  habitual  sinners  !  Brethren, 
if  you  have  the  misfortune  of  having  contracted  a  habit 
of  sin,  make,  as  soon  as  possible,  a  general  confession  ; 


152  SERMON    XXI. 


for  your  past  confessions  can  scarcely  have  been  valid. 
Go  forth  instantly  from  the  slavery  of  the  devil.  Attend 
to  the  advice  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  "Give  not  thy  ears 
to  the  cruel."  (Prov.  v.  9.)  Why  will  you  serve  the 
devil,  your  enemy,  who  is  so  cruel  a  master — who 
makes  you  lead  a  life  of  misery  here,  to  bring  you  to 
a  life  of  still  greater  misery  in  hell  for  all  eternity  ? 
"  Lazarus,  come  forth. "  Go  out  of  the  pit  of  sin  ;  give 
yourself  immediately  to  God,  who  calls  you,  and  is 
ready  to  receive  you  if  you  turn  to  him.  Tremble !  this 
may  be  for  you  the  last  call,  to  which  if  you  do  not  cor 
respond,  you  shall  be  lost. 


SERMON  XXI.— EASTER  SUNDAY. 

On  the  miserable  state  of  relapsing  sinners. 

"  Be  not  affrighted  :  you  seek  Jesus  of  Kazxireth,  who  was  crucified. 
He  is  risen  ;  he  is  not  here." — MARK  xvi.  G. 

I  HOPE,  my  dear  Christians,  that,  as  Christ  is  risen,  you 
have  in  this  holy  paschal  time,  gone  to  confession,  and 
have  risen  from  your  sins.  But,  attend  to  what  St. 
Jerome  teaches — that  many  begin  well,  but  few  perse 
vere.  "  Incipere  multorem  est,  perseverare  paucorum." 
Now  the  Holy  Ghost  declares,  that  he  who  perseveres 
in  holiness  to  death,  and  not  they  who  begin  a  good 
life,  shall  be  saved. "  "  But  he  that  shall  persevere  to 
the  end,  he  shall  be  saved."  (Matt.  xxiv.  13.)  The  crown 
of  Paradise,  says  St.  Bernard,  is  promised  to  those  who 
commence,  but  it  is  given  only  to  those  who  persevere. 
"  Inchoantibus  pramium  promittitur,  perseverantibus 
datur."  (Ser.  vi.  Deinodo  bene  viv.)  Since,  then,  bre 
thren,  you  have  resolved  to  give  yourselves  to  God, 
listen  to  the  admonition  of  the  Holy  Ghost :  "  Son, 
when  thou  comest  to  the  service  of  God,  stand  in 
justice  and  in  fear,  and  prepare  thyself  for  temptation." 
(Eccl.  ii.  1.)  Do  not  imagine  that  you  shall  have  no 
more  temptations,  but  prepare  yourself  for  the  combat, 
and  guard  against  a  relapse  into  the  sins  you  have  con 
fessed  ;  for,  if  you  lose  the  grace  of  God  again,  you 


MISERABLE    STATE    OF    RELAPSING   SINNERS.          153 

shall  find  it  difficult  to  recover  it.  I  intend  this  day 
to  show  you  the  miserable  state  of  relapsing  sinners ; 
that  is,  of  those  who,  after  confession,  miserably  fall 
back  into  the  sins  which  they  confessed. 

] .  Since,  then,  dearly  beloved  Christians,  you  have 
made  a  sincere  confession  of  your  sins,  Jesus  Christ  says 
to  you  what  he  says  to  the  paralytic  :  "  Behold,  thou 
art  made  whole.  Sin  no  more,  lest  some  worse  thing 
happen  to  thee."  (John  v.  14.)  By  the  confessions 
which  you  have  made  your  souls  are  healed,  but  not  as 
yet  saved ;  for,  if  you  return  to  sin,  you  shall  be  again 
condemned  to  hell,  and  the  injury  caused  by  the  relapse 
shall  be  far  greater  than  that  which  you  sustained  from 
your  former  sins.  "  Audis,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  reci- 
dere  quam  incidere,  esse  deterius."  If  a  man  recover 
from  a  mortal  disease,  and  afterwards  fall  back  into  it, 
he  shall  have  lost  so  much  of  his  natural  strength,  that 
his  recovery  from  the  relapse  will  be  impossible.  This 
is  precisely  what  will  happen  to  relaxing  sinners  ;  re 
turning  to  the  vomit — that  is,  taking  back  into  tbe  soul 
the  sins  vomited  forth  in  confession — they  shall  be  so 
weak,  that  they  will  become  objects  of  amusement  to 
the  devil.  St.  Anselm  says,  that  the  devil  acquires  a 
certain  dominion  over  them,  so  that  he  makes  them 
fall,  and  fall  again  as  he  wishes.  Hence  the  miserable 
beings  become  like  birds  with  which  a  child  amuses 
himself.  He  allows  them,  from  time  to  time,  to  fly 
to  a  certain  height,  and  then  draws  them  back  again 
when  he  pleases,  by  means  of  a  cord  made  fast  to  them. 
Such  is  the  manner  in  which  the  devil  treats  relapsing 
sinners.  "Sed  quia  ab  hoste  tenentur,  volantes  in 
eadem  vitia  dejiciuntur." 

2.  St.  Paul  tells  us,  that  we  have  to  contend  not 
with  men  like  ourselves,  made  of  flesh  and  blood,  but 
with  the  princes  of  hell.  "  Our  wrestling  is  not  against 
flesh  and  blood,  but  against  principalities  and  powers." 
(Ephes.  vii.  12.)  By  these  words  he  wishes  to  admonish 
us  that  we  have  not  strength  to  resist  the  powers  of 
hell,  and  that,  to  resist  them,  the  divine  aid  is  abso 
lutely  necessary  :  without  it,  we  shall  be  always  defeated ; 
but,  with  the  assistance  of  God's  grace,  we  shall,  accord 
ing  to  the  same  apostle,  be  able  to  do  all  things  and 


154  SERMON    XXT. 


shall  conquer  all  enemies.  "  I  can  do  all  things  in  him 
who  strengtheneth  me."  (Phil.  iv.  13.)  But  this  assist 
ance  God  gives  only  to  those  who  pray  for  it.  "  Ask, 
and  it  shall  be  given  you;  seek,  and  you  shall  find." 
(Matt.  vii.  7.)  They  who  neglect  to  ask,  do  not  receive. 
Let  us,  then,  be  careful  not  to  trust  in  our  resolutions  : 
if  we  place  our  confidence  in  them,  we  shall  be  lost. 
When  we  are  tempted  to  relapse  into  sin,  we  must  put 
our  whole  trust  in  the  assistance  of  God,  who  infallibly 
hears  all  who  invoke  his  aid. 

»'i.  "  He  that  thinketh  himself  to  stand,  let  him  take 
heed  lest  he  fall."  (1  Cor.  x.  12.)  They  who  are  in  the 
state  of  grace  should,  according  to  St.  Paul,  be  careful 
not  to  fall  into  sin,  particularly  if  they  have  been  ever 
guilty  of  mortal  sins  ;  for  a  relapse  into  sin  brings 
greater  evil  on  the  soul.  "  And  the  last  state  of  that 
man  becomes  worse  than  the  first/5  (Luke  xi.  26.) 

4.  We  are  told  in  the  Holy  Scriptures,  that  the  enemy 
"  will  oiler  victims  to  his  drag,  and  will  sacrifice  to  his 
net ;  because  through  them  his  meat  is  made  dainty." 
(II  abac.  i.  ]G.)  In  explaining  this  passage  St.  Jerome 
says,  that  the  devil  seeks  to  catch  in  his  nets  all  men, 
in  order  to  sacrifice  them  to  the  divine  justice  by  their 
damnation.  Sinners,  who  are  already  in  the  net,  he 
endeavours  to  bind  with  new  chains  ;  but  the  friends  of 
God  are  his  "  dainty  meats."  To  make  them  his  slaves, 
and  to  rob  them  of  all  they  have  acquired,  he  prepares 
stronger  snares.  "  The  more  fervently,"  says  Denis 
the  Carthusian,  "  a  soul  endeavours  to  serve  God,  the 
more  fiercely  does  the  adversary  rage  against  her." 
The  closer  the  union  of  a  Christian  with  God,  and  the 
greater  his  efforts  to  serve  God,  the  more  the  enemy  is 
aimed  with  rage,  and  the  more  strenuously  he  labours 
to  enter  into  the  soul  from  which  he  has  been  expelled. 
"  When,"  says  the  Redeemer,  "  the  unclean  spirit  is 
gone  out  of  a  man,  seeking  rest,  and  not  finding,  he 
saith  :  I  will  return  into  my  house,  whence  I  came  out." 
(Luke  xi.  24.)  Should  he  succeed  in  re-entering,  he  will 
not  enter  alone,  but  will  bring  with  him  associates  to 
fortify  himself  in  the  soul  of  which  he  has  again  got 
possession.  Thus,  the  second  destruction  of  that  miser 
able  soul  shall  be  greater  than  the  first.  "  And  the 


MISERABLE    STATE    OF    RELAPSING   SINNERS.          155 

last  state  of  that  man  becomes  worse  than  the  first." 
(Luke  xi.  26.) 

o.  To  God,  the  relapse  of  ungrateful  Christians  is 
very  displeasing.  Because,  after  he  had  called  and 
pardoned  them  with  so  much  love,  he  sees  that,  forget 
ful  of  his  mercies  to  them,  they  again  turn  their  back 
upon  him  and  renounce  his  grace.  "  If  my  enemy  had 
reviled  me,  I  would  verily  have  borne  with  it.  But 
thou,  a  man  of  one  mind,  my  guide  and  familiar,  who 
didst  take  sweet  meats  together  with  me/'  (Ps.  liv.  13, 
etc.)  Had  my  enemy,  says  the  Lord,  insulted  me,  I 
would  have  felt  less  pain  ;  but  to  see  you  rebel  against 
me,  after  I  had  restored  my  friendship  to  you,  and 
after  I  had  made  you  sit  at  my  table,  to  eat  my  own 
flesh,  grieves  me  to  the  heart,  and  impels  me  to  take 
vengeance  on  you.  Miserable  the  man  who,  after 
having  received  so  many  graces  from  God,  becomes 
the  enemy,  from  being  the  friend  of  God.  He  shall 
find  the  sword  of  divine  vengeance  prepared  to  chastise 
him.  "  And  he  that  passes  over  from  justice  to  sin, 
God  hath  prepared  such  an  one  for  the  sword."  (Eccl. 
xxvi.  27.) 

6.  Some  of  you  may  say :  If  I  relapse,  I  will  soon 
rise  again  ;  for  I  will  immediately  prepare  myself  for 
confession.     To  those  who  speak  in  this  manner  shall 
happen  what  befell  Samson.     He  allowed  himself  to  be 
deluded  by  Dalila  :  while  he  was  asleep  she  cut  off  his 
hair,   and  his  strength  departed  from  him.     Awaking 
from  sleep,  he  said  :   "I  will  go  out  as  I  did  before,  and 
shake  myself,  not  knowing  that  the  Lord  was  departed 
from  him/'  (Judges  xvi.  20.)     He  expected  to  deliver 
himself  as  on  former  occasions,  from  the   hands  of  the 
Philistines.      But,  because  his  strength  had   departed 
from  him,  he  was  made  their  slave.     They  pulled  out 
his  eyes,  and  binding  him   in   chains,  shut  him  up  in 
prison.     After  relapsing  into  sin,  a  Christian  loses  the 
strength  necessary  to  resist  temptations,  because  "  the 
Lord  departs  from  him."     He  abandons  him  by  with 
holding  the  efficacious  aid  necessary  to  overcome  tempta 
tions  ;  and  the  miserable  man  remains  blind  and  aban 
doned  in  his  sin. 

7.  "No  man  putting  his  hand  to  the  plough,  and 


156 


SERMON   XXI. 


looking  back  is  fit  for  the  Kingdom  of  God."  (Luke 
ix.  (i2.)  Behold  a  faithful  picture  of  a  relapsing  sinner. 
Mark  the  words  no  man :  no  one,  says  Jesus  Christ, 
who  begins  to  serve  me,  and  looks  back,  is  fit  to  enter 
heaven.  According  to  Origen,  the  addition  of  a  new 
sin  to  one  committed  before,  is  like  the  addition  of  a 
new  wound  to  a  wound  just  inflicted.  "  Cum  peccatum 
peccato  adjicitur,  sicut  vulnus  vulneri."  (Horn.  i.  in  Ps.) 
If  a  wound  be  inflicted  on  any  member  of  the  body, 
that  member  certainly  loses  its  original  vigour.  But, 
if  it  receives  a  second  wound,  it  shall  lose  all  strength 
and  motion,  without  hope  of  recovery.  The  great  evil 
of  a  relapse  into  sin  is,  that  it  renders  the  soul  so  weak 
that  she  has  but  little  strength  to  resist  temptation. 
For  St.  Thomas  says,  "  After  a  fault  has  been  remitted, 
the  dispositions  produced  by  the  preceding  acts  remain." 
(1  p.,  qu.  86,  art.  5.)  Every  sin,  though  pardoned, 
always  leaves  a  wound  on  the  soul.  When  to  this 
wound  a  new  one  is  added,  the  soul  becomes  so  weak 
that,  without  a  special  and  extraordinary  grace  from 
God,  it  is  impossible  for  her  to  conquer  temptations. 

8.  Let  us,  then,  brethren,  tremble  at  the  thought  of 
relapsing  into  sin,  and  let  us  beware  of  availing  our 
selves  of  the  mercy  of  God  to  continue  to  offend  him. 
"  He,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  who  has  promised  pardon 
to  penitents,  has  promised  repentance  to  no  one."     God 
has  indeed  promised  pardon  to  all  who  repent  of  their 
sins,  but  he  has  not  promised  to  any  one  the  grace  to 
repent  of  the  faults  which  he  has  committed.     Sorrow 
for  sin  is   a  pure  gift  of  God  ;  if  he  withholds  it,  how 
will  you  repent  ?     And  without  repentance,  how  can 
you  obtain  pardon  ?     Ah  !  the  Lord  will  not  allow  him 
self  to  be  mocked.     "  Be  not  deceived,"  says  St.  Paul, 
"  God  is  not  mocked."  (Gal.  vi.  7.)     St.  Isidore  tells  us, 
that   the   man  who   repeats   the  sin  which  he   before 
detested,   is   not   a   penitent,   but   a   scoffer   of    God's 
majesty.      "  Irrisor,    et   non   pcenitens  est,  pui   adhuc 
agit,  quod  pcenitet."  (De  Sum.  Bono.)     And  Tertullian 
teaches,  that  where  there  is  no  amendment,  repentance 
is  not  sincere.    "  Ubi  emendatio  nulla,  poeaitentia  nulla." 
(De  Pamit.) 

9.  "Be  penitent,"  said  St.  Peter  in  a  discourse  to  the 


MISERABLE    STATE    OF    RELAPSING    SINNERS.          157 


Jews,  "  and  be  converted,  that  your  sins  may  be  blotted 
out."  (Acts  iii.  19.)  Many  repent,  but  are  not  con 
verted.  They  feel  a  certain  sorrow  for  the  irregularities 
of  their  lives,  but  do  not  sincerely  return  to  God.  They 
go  to  confession,  strike  their  breasts,  and  promise  to 
amend ;  but  they  do  not  make  a  firm  resolution  to 
change  their  lives.  They  who  resolve  firmly  on  a 
change  oHife,  persevere,  or  at  least  preserve  themselves 
for  a  considerable  time  in  the  grace  of  God.  But  they 
who  relapse  into  sin  soon  after  confession,  show,  as  St. 
Peter  says,  that  they  repent,  but  are  not  converted ; 
and  such  persons  shall  in  the  end  die  an  unhappy 
death.  "Plerumque,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  mali  sic 
compunguntur  ad  justitiam,  sicut  plerumque  boni  ten- 
tantur  ad  culpam."  (Pastor.,  p.  3,  admon.  31.)  As 
the  just  have  frequent  temptations  to  sin,  but  yield  not 
to  them,  because  their  will  abhors  them,  so  sinners  feel 
certain  impulses  to  virtue ;  but  these  are  not  sufficient 
to  produce  a  true  conversion.  The  Wise  Man  tells  us 
that  mercy  shall  be  shown  to  him  who  confesses  his 
sins  and  abandons  them,  but  not  to  those  who  merely 
confess  their  transgressions.  "He  that  shall  confess 
'  his  sins/  and  forsake  them,  shall  obtain  mercy."  (Prov. 
xxviii.  13.)  He,  then,  who  does  not  give  up,  but  returns 
to  sin  after  confession,  shall  not  obtain  mercy  from  God, 
but  shall  die  a  victim  of  divine  justice.  He  may  expect 
to  die  the  death  of  a  certain  young  Englishman,  who, 
as  is  related  in  the  history  of  England,  was  in  the  habit 
of  relapsing  into  sins  against  purity.  He  always  fell 
back  into  these  sins  after  confession.  At  the  hour  of 
death  he  confessed  his  sins,  and  died  in  a  manner  which 
gave  reason  to  hope  for  his  salvation.  But,  while  a 
holy  priest  was  celebrating  or  preparing  to  celebrate 
Mass  for  his  departed  tsoul,  the  miserable  young  man 
appeared  to  him,  and  said  that  he  was  damned.  He 
added  that,  at  the  point  of  death,  being  tempted  to  in 
dulge  a  bad  thought,  he  felt  himself  as  it  were  forced 
to  consent,  and,  as  he  was  accustomed  to  do  in  the 
former  part  of  his  life,  he  yielded  to  the  temptation,  and 
thus  was  lost. 

10.  Is  there  then  no  means  of  salvation  for  relapsing 
sinners  ?     I  do  not  say  this ;  but  I  adopt  the  maxim  of 


158  SERMON   XXI. 


physicians.  "  In  inagnis  morbis  a  magnis  initium  me- 
dendi  sumere  oportet."  In  malignant  diseases,  powerful 
remedies  are  necessary.  To  return  to  the  way  of  salva 
tion,  the  relapsing  sinner  must  do  great  violence  to 
himself.  "  The  kingdom  of  heaven  suffereth  violence, 
and  the  violent  bear  it  away."  (Matt.  xi.  12.)  In  the 
beginning  of  a  new  life,  the  relapsing  sinner  must  do 
violence  to  himself  in  order  to  root  out  the  bad  habits 
which  he  has  contracted,  and  to  acquire  habits  of  virtue  ; 
for  when  he  has  acquired  habits  of  virtue,  the  observ 
ance  of  the  divine  commands  shall  become  easy  and  even 
sweet.  The  Lord  once  said  to  St.  Bridget,  that,  to  those 
who  bear  with  fortitude  the  first  punctures  of  the  thorns 
which  they  experience  in  the  attacks  of  the  senses,  in 
avoiding  occasions  of  sin,  and  in  withdrawing  from 
dangerous  conversations,  these  thorns  are  by  degrees 
changed  into  roses. 

11.  But,  to  use  the  necessary  violence,  and  to  lead  a 
life  of  regularity,  you  must  adopt  the  proper  means  ; 
otherwise  you  shall  do  nothing.  After  rising  in  the 
morning,  you  must  make  acts  of  thanksgiving,  of  the 
love  of  God,  and  of  oblation  of  the  actions  of  the  day. 
You  must  also  renew  your  resolution  never  to  offend 
God,  and  beg  of  Jesus  Christ  and  his  holy  mother  to 
preserve  you  from  sin  during  the  day.  Afterwards 
make  your  meditation  and  hear  Mass.  During  the  day 
make  a  spiritual  lecture  and  a  visit  to  the  most  holy 
sacrament.  In  the  evening,  say  the  Rosary  and  make 
an  examination  of  conscience.  Receive  the  holy  com 
munion  at  least  once  a  week,  or  more  frequently  if  your 
directors  advise  you.  Be  careful  to  choose  a  confessor, 
to  whom  you  will  regularly  go  to  confession.  It  is  also 
very  useful  to  make  a  spiritual  retreat  every  year  in 
some  religious  house.  Honour  the  mother  of  God 
every  day  by  some  particular  devotion,  and  by  fasting 
on  every  Saturday.  She  is  the  mother  of  perseverance, 
and  promises  to  obtain  it  for  all  who  serve  her.  "  They 
that  work  by  me  shall  not  sin."  (Eccl.  xxiv.  30.)  Above 
all,  it  is  necessary  to  ask  of  God  every  morning  the  gift 
of  perseverance,  and  to  beg  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  to 
obtain  it  for  you,  and  particularly  in  the  time  of  temp 
tation,  by  invoking  the  name  of  Jesus  and  Alary  as 


AVOIDING    OCCASIONS    OF    !SIN.  159 

long  as  the  temptation  lasts.  Happy  the  man  who  will 
continue  to  act  in  this  manner,  and  shall  he  found  so 
doing  when  Jesus  Christ  shall  come  to  judge  him. 
"  Blessed  is  that  servant,  whom,  when  his  Lord  shall 
come,  he  shall  find  so  doing."  (Matt.  xxiv.  46.) 


SERMON   XXII.— FIRST    SUNDAY  AFTER 
EASTER. 

On  avoiding  the  occasions  of  sin. 

"When  the  doors  were  shut,   where  Hie  disciples  were   gathered 

together  for  fear  of  the  Jews,  Jesus  came  and  stood  in  the  midst." 

JOHN  xx.  19. 

WE  find  in  this  day's  gospel  that  after  his  resurrection 
Jesus  Christ  entered,  though  the  doors  were  closed,  into 
the  house  in  which  the  apostles  were  assembled,  and 
stood  in  the  midst  of  them.  St.  Thomas  says,  that  the 
mystic  meaning  of  this  miracle  is,  that  the  Lord  does 
not  enter  into  our  souls  unless  we  keep  the  door  of  the 
senses  shut.  _  "  Mistice  per  hoc  datur  intelligi,  quod 
Christus  nobit  apparet  quando  fores,  id  est  sensus  sunt 
clausi."  If,  then,  we  wish  Jesus  Christ  to  dwell  within 
us,  we  must  keep  the  doors  of  our  senses  closed  against 
dangerous  occasions,  otherwise  the  devil  will  make  us 
his  slaves.  I  will  show  to-day  the  great  danger  of  per 
dition  to  which  they  who  do  not  avoid  the  occasions  of 
sin  expose  themselves. 

1.  We  read  in  the  Scriptures  that  Christ  and  Lazarus 

arose  ^from  ^  the  dead.     Christ   rose  to  die  no   more 

"Christ  rising  from  the  dead,  dieth  no  more  "  (Rom.  vi. 
9) ;  but  Lazarus  arose  and  died  again.  The  Abbot  Guerric 
remarks  that  Christ  arose  free  and  unbound;  "but 
Lazarus  came  forth  bound  feet  and  hands."  (John  xi. 
44.)  Miserable  the  man,  adds  this  author,  who  rises 
from  sin  bound  by  any  dangerous  occasion  :  he  will  die 
again  by  losing  the  divine  grace.  He,  then,  who  wishes 
to  save  his  soul,  must  not  only  abandon  sin,  but  also  the 
occasions  of  sin :  that  is,  he  must  renounce  such  an  inti 
macy,  such  a  house ;  he  must  renounce  those  wicked  com 
panions,  and  all  similar  occasions  that  incite  him  to  sin. 


100 


SKKMOX    XXII. 


2.  In  consequence  of  original  sin,  we  all  have  an 
inclination  to  do  what  is  forbidden.     Hence  St.  Paul 
complained  that  he  experienced  in  himself  a  law  opposed 
to   reason :    t(  But  I  see  another  law  in  my  members, 
fighting  against  the  law  ef  my  mind,  and  captivating  me 
in  the  law  of  sin."    (Rom.  vii.   23.)      Now,   when    a 
dangerous  occasion  is  present,  it  violently  excites  our 
corrupt  desires,  so  that  it  is  then  very  difficult  to  resist 
them :    because  God  withholds   efficacious   helps   from 
those  who  voluntarily  expose  themselves  to  the  occasion 
of  sin.     "He  that  loveth  danger  shall  perish  in  it." 
(Eccl.  iii.  27.)     "  When,"  says  St.  Thomas,  in  his  com 
ment  on  this  passage,  "  we  expose  ourselves  to  danger, 
God  abandons  us  in  it."      St.    Bernardine  of  Sienna 
teaches  that  the  counsel  of  avoiding  the  occasions  of 
sin  is  the  best  of  all  counsel,  and  as  it  were  the  foun 
dation  of  religion.     "  Inter  consilia  Christi  unum  cele- 
berrimum,  et  quasi  religiouis  fundamentum  est,  fugere 
peccatorum  occasiones." 

3.  St.  Peter  says  that  "  the  devil  goeth  about  seek 
ing  whom  he  may  devour."  (1  Pet.  v.  8.)     He  is  con 
stantly  going  about  our  souls,   endeavouring  to  enter 
and  take  possession  of  them.     Hence,  he  seeks  to  place 
before  us  the  occasions  of  sin,  by  which  he  enters  the 
soul.     "  Explorat,"  says  St.  Cyprian,  "  an  sit  pars  cujus 
aditu  penetret."     When  the  soul  yields  to  the  sugges 
tions  of  the  devil,  and  exposes  herself  to  the  occasions 
of  sin,  he  easily  enters  and  devours  her.     The  ruin  of 
our  first  parents  arose  from  their  not  flying  from  the 
occasions  of  sin.     God  had  prohibited  them  not  only  to 
eat,  but  even  to  touch  the  forbidden  apple.     In  answer 
to  the  serpent  tempting   her,   Eve  said:    "God   hath 
commanded  us  that  we  should  not  eat,   and  that  we 
should  not  touch  it."  (Gen.  iii.  3.)     But  "  she  saw,  took, 
and  eat "  the  forbidden  fruit :  she  first  looked  at  it,  she 
then  took  it  into  her  hands,  and  afterwards  eat  it.     This 
is  what  ordinarily  happens  to  all  who  expose  themselves 
to  the  occasions  of  sin.     Hence,  being  once  compelled 
by  exorcisms  to  tell  the  sermon  which  displeased  him 
most,  the  devil  confessed  that  it  was  the  sermon  on 
avoiding  the  occasions  of  sin.     As  long  as  we  expose 
ourselves  to  the  occasions  of  sin,  the  devil  laughs  at  all 


AVOIDING   OCCASIONS   OF   SIN.  161 

our  good  purposes  and  promises  made  to  God.  The 
greatest  care  of  the  enemy  is  to  induce  us  not  to  avoid 
evil  occasions;  for  these  occasions,  like  a  veil  placed 
before  the  eyes,  prevent  us  from  seeing  either  the  lights 
received  from  God,  or  the  eternal  truths,  or  the  resolu 
tions  we  have  made :  in  a  word,  they  make  us  forget 
all,  and  as  it  were  force  us  into  sin. 

4.  "  Know  it  to  be  a  communication  with  death  ;  for 
thou  art  going  in  the  midst  of  snares."  (Eccl.  ix.  20.) 
Everyone  born  in  this  world  enters  into  the  midst  of 
snares.     Hence,  the  Wise  Man  advises  those  who  wish 
to  be  secure  to  guard  themselves  against  the  snares  of 
the  world,  and  to  withdraw  from  them.     "He  that  is 
aware  of  the  snares  shall  be  secure."  (Prov.  xi.  15.)    But 
if,   instead    of    withdrawing   from    them,    a    Christian 
approaches  to  them,  how  can  he  avoid  being  caught  by 
them  ?     Hence,  after  having  with  so  much  loss  learned 
the  danger  of  exposing  himself  to  the  danger  of  sin, 
David  said  that,  to  continue  faithful  to  God,  he  kept  at 
a  distance  from  every  occasion  which  could  lead  him  to 
relapse.     "  I  have  restrained  my  feet  from  every  evil 
way,  that  I  may  keep  thy  words."  (Ps.  cxviii.  101.)    He 
does  not  say  from  every  sin,  but  from  every  evil  way 
which  conducts  to  sin.     The  devil  is  careful   to   find 
pretexts  to  make  us  believe  that   certain  occasions  to 
which  we  expose  ourselves  are  not  voluntary,  but  neces 
sary.     When  the  occasion  in  which  we  are  placed  is 
really  necessary,  the  Lord  always  helps  us  to  avoid  sin ; 
but  we  sometimes  imagine  certain  necessities  which  are 
not  sufficient  to  excuse  us.     "  A  treasure  is  never  safe/' 
says  ^  St.  Cyprian,   "as  long  as   a  robber  is  harboured 
within ;  nor  is  a  lamb  secure  while  it  dwells  in  the  same 
den  with  a  wolf."  (Lib.  de  Sing.  Cler.)     The  saint  speaks 
against  those  who  do  not  wish  to  remove  the  occasions 
of  sin,  and  still  say:  "I  am  not  afraid  that  I  shall  fall." 
As  no  one  can  be  secure  of  his  treasure  if  he  keeps  a 
thief  in  his  house,  and  as  a  lamb  cannot  be  sure  of  its 
life  if  it  remain  in  the  den  of  a  wolf,  so  likewise  no  one 
can  be  secure  of  the  treasure  of  divine  grace  if  he  is 
resolved  to  continue  in  the  occasion  of  sin.     St.  James 
teaches  that  every  man  has  within  himself  a  powerful 
enemy,  that  is,  his  own  evil  inclinations,  which  tempt 


162  SERMON    XXTI. 


him  to  sin.  "  Every  man  is  tempted  by  his  own  concu 
piscence,  drawn  away,  and  allured."  (St.  James  i.  14.) 
If,  then,  we  do  not  fly  from  the  external  occasions,  how 
can  we  resist  temptation  and  avoid  sin?  Let  us,  therefore, 
place  before  our  eyes  the  general  remedy  which  Jesus 
has  prescribed  for  conquering  temptations  and  saving 
our  souls.  "  If  thy  right  eye  scandalize  thee,  pluck  it 
out  and  cast  it  from  thce."  (Matt.  v.  29.)  If  you  find 
that  your  right  eye  is  to  you  a  cause  of  damnation,  you 
must  pull  it  out  and  cast  it  far  from  you ;  that  is,  when 
there  is  danger  of  losing  your  soul,  you  must  fly  from 
all  evil  occasions.  St.  Francis  of  Assisium  used  to  say, 
as  I  have  stated  in  another  sermon,  that  the  devil  does 
not  seek,  in  the  beginning,  to  bind  timorous  souls  with 
the  chain  of  mortal  sin  ;  because  they  would  be  alarmed 
at  the  thought  of  committing  mortal  sin,  and  would 
fly  from  it  with  horror  :  he  endeavours  to  bind  them  by 
a  single  hair,  which  does  not  excite  much  fear;  because 
by  this  means  he  will  succeed  more  easily  in  strengthen 
ing  their  bonds,  till  he  makes  them  his  slaves.  Hence 
he  who  wishes  to  be  free  from  the  danger  of  being  the 
slave  of  hell  must  break  all  the  hairs  by  which  the 
enemy  attempts  to  bind  him ;  that  is,  he  must  avoid  all 
occasions  of  sin,  such  as  certain  salutations,  billets,  little 
presents,  and  words  of  affection.  With  regard  to  those 
who  have  had  a  habit  of  impurity,  it  will  not  be  suffi 
cient  to  avoid  proximate  occasions ;  if  they  do  not  fly 
from  remote  occasions,  they  will  very  easily  relapse 
into  their  former  sins. 

5.  Impurity,  says  St.  Augustine,  is  a  vice  which  makes 
waronall,  and  which  few  conquer.  "  The  fight  is  common, 
but  the  victory  rare."  How  many  miserable  souls  have 
entered  the  contest  with  this  vice,  and  have  been 
defeated  !  But  to  induce  you  to  expose  yourselves  to 
occasions  of  this  sin,  the  devil  will  tell  you  not  to  be 
afraid  of  being  overcome  by  the  temptation.  "  I  do  not 
wish,"  says  St.  Jerome,  "to  fight  with  the  hope  of 
victory,  lest  I  should  sometimes  lose  the  victory."  I 
will  not  expose  myself  to  the  combat  with  the  hope  of 
conquering;  because,  by  voluntarily  engaging  in  the 
fight,  I  shall  lose  my  soul  and  my  God.  To  escape 
defeat  in  this  struggle,  a  great  grace  of  God  is  necessary  ; 


AVOIDING    OCCASIONS  OF   SIN.  163 

and  to  render  ourselves  worthy  of  this  grace,  we  must, 
on  our  part,  avoid  the  occasions  of  sin.  To  practise  the 
virtue  of  chastity,  it  is  necessary  to  recommend  ourselves 
continually  to  God :  we  have  not  strength  to  preserve 
it ;  that  strength  must  be  the  gift  of  God.  "  And  as  I 
knew,"  says  the  Wise  Man,  "  that  I  could  not  otherwise 
be  continent,  except  God  gave  it,  ...  I  went  to  the  Lord, 
and  besought  him."  (Wis.  viii.  21.)  But  if  we  expose 
ourselves  to  the  occasions  of  sin,  we  ourselves  shall 
provide  our  rebellious  flesh  with  arms  to  make  war 
against  the  soul.  "  Neither,"  says  the  Apostle,  "  yield 
ye  your  members  as  instruments  of  sin  unto  iniquity." 
(Rom.  vi.  13.)  In  explaining  this  passage,  St.  Cyril  of 
Alexandria  says :  "  You  stimulate  the  flesh  ;  you  arm  it, 
and  make  it  powerful  against  the  spirit."  St.  Philip 
Neri  used  to  say,  that  in  the  war  against  the  vice  of 
impurity,  the  victory  is  gained  by  cowards — that  is,  by 
those  who  fly  from  the  occasions  of  this  sin.  But  the 
man  who  exposes  himself  to  it,  arms  his  flesh,  and 
renders  it  so  powerful,  that  it  will  be  morally  impossible 
for  him  to  resist  its  attacks. 

0.  "  Cry,"  says  the  Lord  to  Isaias,  "  all  flesh  is  grass." 
(Isa.  xl.  6.)  Now,  says  St.  John  Chrysostom,  if  all  flesh 
is  grass,  it  is  as  foolish  for  a  man  who  exposes  himself 
to  the  occasion  of  sin  to  hope  to  preserve  the  virtue  of 
purity,  as  to  expect  that  hay,  into  which  a  torch  has  been 
thrown,  will  not  take  fire.  "  Put  a  torch  into  hay,  and 
then  dare  to  deny  that  the  hay  will  burn."  No,  says  St. 
Cyprian  ;  it  is  impossible  to  stand  in  the  midst  of  flames, 
and  not  to  burn.  "  Impossibile  est  flammis  circumdari 
et  non  ardere."  (De  Sing.  Cler.)  "  Can  a  man,"  says  the 
Holy  Ghost,  "  hide  fire  in  his  bosom,  and  his  garments 
not  burn  ?  or  can  he  walk  upon  hot  coals,  and  his  feet 
not  be  burnt  ?"  (Prov.  vi.  27,  28.)  Not  to  be  burnt  in 
such  circumstances  would  be  a  miracle.  St.  Bernard 
teaches,  that  to  preserve  chastity,  and,  at  the  same  time, 
to  expose  oneself  to  the  proximate  occasion  of  sin,  "  is 
a  greater  miracle  than  to  raise  a  dead  man  to  life." 

7.  In  explaining  the  fifth  Psalm,  St.  Augustine  says, 
that  "  he  who  is  unwilling  to  fly  from  danger,  wishes  to 
perish  in  it."  Hence,  in  another  place,  he  exhorts  those 
who  wish  to  conquer,  and  not  to  perish,  to  avoid 


164  SERMON    XXII. 


dangerous  occasions.  "  In  the  occasion  of  falling  into 
sin,  take  flight,  if  you  desire  to  gain  the  victory."  (Serm. 
ccl.  de  temp.)  Some  foolishly  trust  in  their  own  strength, 
and  do  not  see  that  their  strength  is  like  that  of  tow 
placed  in  the  fire.  "  And  your  strength  shall  be  as  the 
ashes  of  tow."  (Isa.  i.  31 .)  Others,  trusting  in  the  change 
which  has  taken  place  in  their  life,  in  their  confessions, 
and  in  the  promises  they  have  made  to  God,  say  : 
Through  the  grace  of  the  Lord,  I  have  now  no  bad 
motive  in  seeking  the  company  of  such  a  person ;  her 
presence  is  not  even  an  occasion  of  temptations  :  Listen, 
all  you  who  speak  in  this  manner.  In  Mauritania  there 
are  bears  that  go  in  quest  of  the  apes,  to  feed  upon 
them  :  as  soon  as  a  bear  appears,  the  apes  run  up  the 
trees,  and  thus  save  themselves.  But  what  does  the 
bear  do?  He  stretches  himself  on  the  ground  as  if 
dead,  and  waits  till  the  apes  descend  from  the  trees. 
The  moment  he  sees  that  they  have  descended,  he  springs 
up,  seizes  on  them,  and  devours  them.  It  is  thus  the 
devil  acts :  he  makes  the  temptation  appear  to  be  dead ; 
but  when  a  soul  descends,  and  exposes  herself  to  the 
occasion  of  sin,  he  stirs  up  temptation,  and  devours  her. 
Oh !  how  many  miserable  souls,  devoted  to  spiritual 
things,  to  mental  prayer,  to  frequent  communion,  and 
to  a  life  of  holiness,  have,  by  exposing  themselves  to  the 
occasion  of  sin,  become  the  slaves  of  the  devil !  We 
find  in  ecclesiastical  history  that  a  holy  woman,  who 
employed  herself  in  the  pious  office  of  burying  the 
martyrs,  once  found  among  them  one  who  was  not  as 
yet  dead.  She  brought  him  into  her  own  house,  and 
procured  a  physician  and  medicine  for  him,  till  he  re 
covered.  But,  what  happened?  These  two  saints  (as 
they  might  be  called— one  of  them  on  the  point  of 
being  a  martyr,  the  other  devoting  her  time  to  works  of 
mercy  with  so  much  risk  of  being  persecuted  by  the 
tyrants)  first  fell  into  sin  and  lost  the  grace  of  God,  and, 
becoming  weaker  by  sin,  afterwards  denied  the  faith. 
St.  Macarius  relates  a  similar  fact  regarding  an  old  man 
who  suffered  to  be  half- burned  in  defence  of  the  faith  ; 
but,  being  brought  back  into  prison,  he,  unfortunately 
for  himself,  formed  an  intimacy  with  a  devout  woman 
who  served  the  martyrs,  and  fell  into  sin. 


AVOIDING   OCCASIONS  OF  SIN.  165 


8.  The  Holy  Ghost  tells  us,  that  we  must  fly  from 
sin  as  from  a  serpent.  "  Flee  from  sin  as  from,  the 
face  of  a  serpent."  (Eccl.  xxi.  2.)  Hence,  as  we  not 
only  avoid  the  bite  of  a  serpent,  but  are  careful  neither 
to  touch  nor  approach  it,  so  we  must  fly  not  only  from 
sin,  but  also  from  the  occasion  of  sin — that  is,  from  the 
house,  the  conversation,  the  person  that  would  lead  us 
to  sin.  St.  Isidore  says,  that  he  who  wishes  to  remain 
near  a  serpent,  will  not  remain  long  unhurt.  "  Juxta 
serpentem  positus  non  erit  din  illoesus."  (Lib.  2,  Solit.) 
Hence,  if  any  person  is  likely  to  prove  an  occasion  of 
your  ruin,  the  admonition  of  the  Wise  Man  is,  "  Remove 
thy  way  far  from  her,  and  come  not  nigh  the  doors  of 
her  house."  (Prov.  v.  8.)  He  not  only  tells  you  not  to 
enter  the  house  which  has  been  to  you  a  road  to  hell 
("  Her  house  is  the  way  to  hell."  Prov.  vii.  27) ;  but  he 
also  cautions  you  not  to  approach  it,  and  even  to  keep 
at  a  distance  from  it.  "  Remove  thy  way  far  from  her." 
But,  you  will  say,  if  I  abandon  that  house,  my  temporal 
affairs  shall  suffer.  It  is  better  that  you  should  suffer 
a  temporal  loss,  than  that  you  should  lose  your  soul  and 
your  God.  You  must  be  persuaded  that,  in  whatever 
regards  chastity,  there  cannot  be  too  great  caution.  If 
we  wish  to  save  our  souls  from  sin  and  hell,  we  must 
always  fear  and  tremble.  "  With  fear  and  trembling 
work  out  your  salvation/'  (Phil.  ii.  12.)  He  who  is  not 
fearful,  but  exposes  himself  to  occasions  of  sin,  shall 
scarcely  be  saved.  Hence,  in  our  prayers  we  ought  to 
say  every  day,  and  several  times  in  the  day,  that  petition 
of  the  OUR  FATHER — "  and  lead  us  not  into  temptation." 
Lord,  do  not  permit  me  to  be  attacked  by  those  tempta 
tions  which  would  deprive  me  of  your  grace.  We  can 
not  merit  the  grace  of  perseverance ;  but,  according  to 
St.  Augustine,  God  grants  it  to  every  one  that  asks  it, 
because  he  has  promised  to  hear  all  who  pray  to  him. 
Hence,  the  holy  doctor  says,  that  the  Lord,  "  by  his 
promises  has  made  himself  a  debtor." 


166  SERMON    XXIII. 


SERMON    XXIII.— SECOND     SUNDAY    AFTER 
EASTER. 

On  scandal. 

"  The  wolf  catchcth  and  scattereth  the  sheep.1'— JOHN  x.  12. 

THE  wolves  that  catch  and  scatter  the  sheep  of  Jesus 
Christ  are  the  authors  of  scandal,  \vho,  not  content  with 
their  own  destruction,  labour  to  destroy  others.  But  the 
Lord  says :  "  Woe  to  that  man  by  whom  the  scandal 
cometh."  (Matt,  xviii.  7.)  Woe  to  him  who  gives  scandal, 
and  causes  others  to  lose  the  grace  of  God.  Origen 
says,  that  u  a  person  who  impels  another  to  sin,  sins  more 
grievously  than  the  other."  If,  brethren,  there  be  any 
among  you  who  has  given  scandal,  I  will  endeavour  this 
day  to  convince  him  of  the  evil  he  has  done,  that  he  may 
bewail  it  and  guard  against  it  for  the  future.  I  will 
show,  in  the  first  point,  the  great  displeasure  which  tho 
sin  of  scandal  gives  to  God;  and,  in  the  second,  the  great 
punishment  which  God  threatens  to  inflict  on  the  authors 
of  scandal. 

First  Point. — On  the  great  displeasure  which  the  sin 
of  scandal  gives  to  God. 

1.  It  is,  in  the  first  place,  necessary  to  explain  what 
is  meant  by  scandal.     Behold  how  St.  Thomas  defines 
it :  "  Scandal  is  a  word  or  act  which  gives  occasion  to 
the   ruin  of  one's  neighbour." — (2  ii.,   q.  45,  art.  1.) 
Scandal,  then,  is  a  word  or  act  by  which  you  are  to 
your  neighbour  the  cause  or  occasion  of  losing  his  soul. 
It  may  be  direct  or  indirect.     It  is  direct,  when  you 
directly  tempt  or  induce  another  to  commit  sin.     It  is 
indirect,  when,  although  you  foresee  that  sinful  words 
or  actions  will  be  the  cause  of  sin  to  another,  you  do 
not  abstain  from  them.     But,   scandal,  whether  it  be 
direct  or  indirect,  if  it  be  in  a  matter  of  great  moment, 
is  always  a  mortal  sin. 

2.  Let  us  now  see  the  great  displeasure  which  the 
destruction  of  a  neighbour's  soul   gives  to   God.     To 
understand  it,  we  must  consider  how  dear  every  soul  is 


ON    SCANDAL.  167 


to  God.  Ho  has  created  the  souls  of  all  men  to  his  own 
image.  "  Let  us  make  man  to  our  image  and  likeness." 
(Gen.  i.  26.)  Other  creatures  God  has  made  by  a  fiat 
— by  an  act  of  his  will ;  but  the  soul  of  man  he  'has 
created  by  his  own  breath.  "And  the  Lord  breathed 
into  his  face  the  breath  of  life."  (Gen.  ii.  7.)  The  soul 
of  your  neighbour  God  has  loved  for  eternity.  "  I  have 
loved  thee  with  an  everlasting  love."  (Jer.  xxxi.  3.) 
He  has,  moreover,  created  every  soul  to  be  a  queen  in 
Paradise,  and  to  be  a  partner  in  his  glory.  "  That  by 
these  you  may  be  made  partakers  of  the  divine  nature." 
(2  Peter  i.  4.)  In  heaven  he  will  make  the  souls  of  the 
saints  partakers  of  his  own  joy.  "  Enter  thou  into  the 
joy  of  thy  Lord."  (Matt.  xxv.  21.  To  them  he  shall 
give  himself  as  their  reward.  "  I  am  thy  reward  exceed 
ing  great."  (Gen.  xv.  1.) 

3.  But  nothing  can  show  the  value  which  God  sets 
on  the  souls  of  men  more  clearly  than  what  the  Incar 
nate  Word  has  done  for  their  redemption  from  sin  and 
hell.     "  If,"  says  St.  Eucharius,   "  you  do  not  believe 
your   Creator,  ask  your  Redeemer,  how  precious  you 
are."     Speaking  of  the  care  which  we  ought  to  have  of 
our  brethren,  St.  Ambrose  says :  "  The  great  value  of 
the  salvation  of  a  brother  is  known  from  the  death  of 
Christ."     We  judge  of  the  value  of  everything  by  the 

5 rice  paid  for  it  by  an  intelligent  purchaser.  Now, 
esus  Christ  has,  according  to  the  Apostle,  purchased 
the  souls  of  men  with  his  own  blood.  "  You  are  bought 
with  a  great  price."  (1  Cor.  vi.  20.)  We  can,  then, 
say,  that  the  soul  is  of  as  much  value  as  the  blcod  of  a 
God.  Such,  indeed,  is  the  language  of  St.  Hilary. 
"  Tarn  copioso  munere  redemptio  agitur,  ut  homo  Deum 
valere  videatur."  Hence,  the  Saviour  tells  us,  that 
whatsoever  good  or  evil  we  do  to  the  least  of  his  bre 
thren,  we  do  to  himself.  "  So  long  as  you  did  it  to  one 
of  these  my  least  brethren,  you  did  it  to  me."  (Matt. 
xxv.  40.) 

4.  From  all  this  we  may  infer  how  great  is  the  dis 
pleasure  given  to  God  by  scandalizing  a  brother,  and 
destroying  his  soul.     It  is  enough  to  say,  that  they  who 
give  scandal  rob  God  of  a  child,  and  murder  a  soul,  for 
whose  salvation  he  has  spent  his  blood  and  his  life. 


168  SERMON    XXIII. 


Hence,  St.  Leo  calls  the  authors  of  scandals  murderers. 
"  Quisquis  scandalizat,  mortem  infert  animao  proximi." 
They  are  the  most  impious  of  murderers;  because  they 
kill  not  the  body,  but  the  soul  of  a  brother,  and  rob 
Jesus  Christ  of  all  his  tears,  of  his  sorrows,  and  of  all 
that  he  has  done  and  suffered  to  gain  that  soul.  Hence 
the  Apostle  says  :  "  Now,  when  you  sin  thus  against 
the  brethren,  and  wound  their  weak  conscience,  you 
sin  against  Christ."  (1  Cor.  viii.  12.)  They  who  scan 
dalize  a  brother,  sin  against  Christ ;  because,  as  St. 
Ambrose  says,  they  deprive  him  of  a  soul  for  which  he 
has  spent  so  many  years,  and  submitted  to  so  many 
toils  and  labours.  It  is  related,  that  B.  Albertus  Magnus 
spent  thirty  years  in  making  a  head,  which  resembled 
the  human  head,  and  uttered  words:  and  that  St. 
Thomas,  fearing  that  it  was  done  by  the  agency  of  the 
devil,  took  the  head  and  broke  it.  B.  Albertus  com 
plained  of  the  act  of  St.  Thomas,  saying:  "You  have 
broken  on  me  the  work  of  thirty  years."  I  do  not 
assert  that  this  is  true ;  but  it  is  certain  that,  when 
Jesus  Christ  sees  a  soul  destroyed  by  scandal,  he  can 
reprove  the  author  of  it,  and  say  to  him  :  Wicked 
wretch,  what  have  you  done  ?  You  have  deprived  me 
of  this  soul,  for  which  I  have  laboured  thirty-three 
years. 

5.  We  read  in  the  Scriptures,  that  the  sons  of  Jacob, 
after  having  s  )ld  their  brother  Joseph  to  certain  mer 
chants,  told  his  father  that  wild  beasts  had  devoured 
him.  "  Fera  pessima  devoravit  eum."  (Gen.  xxxvii.  20.) 
To  convince  their  father  of  the  truth  of  what  they  said, 
they  dipped  the  coat  of  Joseph  in  the  blood  of  a  goat, 
and  presented  it  to  him,  saying:  "See  whether  this  be 
thy  son's  coat  or  not  "  (v.  32).  In  reply,  the  afflicted 
father  said  with  tears  :  "  It  is  my  son's  coat :  an  evil 
wild  beast  hath  eaten  him  "  (v.  33).  Thus,  we  may 
imagine  that,  when  a  soul  is  brought  into  sin  by  scandal, 
the  devils  present  to  God  the  garment  of  that  soul 
dipped  in  the  blood  of  the  Immaculate  Lamb,  Jesus 
Christ — that  is,  the  grace  lost  by  that  scandalized  soul, 
which  Jesus  Christ  had  purchased  with  his  blood — and 
that  they  say  to  the  Lord  :  u  See  whether  this  be  thy 
son's  coat  or  not."  If  God  were  capable  of  shedding 


ON   SCANDAL. 


169 


tears,  he  would  weep  more  bitterly  than  Jacob  did,  at 
the  sight  of  that  lost  soul — his  murdered  child — and 
would  say :  "  It  is  my  son's  coat :  an  evil  wild  beast 
hath  eaten  him."  The  Lord  will  go  in  search  of  this 
wild  beast,  saying :  "  Where  is  the  beast  ?  where  is  the 
beast  that  has  devoured  my  child  ?"  When  he  finds 
the  wild  beast,  what  shall  he  do  with  him  ? 

6.  "I   will,"  says   the   Lord   by  his   prophet  Osee, 
"meet  them   as  a  bear  that  is  robbed  of  her  whelps." 
(Osee  xiii.  8.)     When  the  bear  comes  to  her  den,  and 
finds  not  her  whelps,  she  goes  about  the  wood  in  search 
of  the  person  who  took  them  away.     When  she  dis 
covers  the  person,  oh  !  with  what  fury  does  she  rush 
upon  him  !     It  is  thus  the  Lord  shall  rush  upon  the 
anthors  of  scandal,  who  have  robbed  him  of  his  children. 
Those  who  have  given  scandal,  will  say :  My  neigh 
bour  is  already  damned  ;  how  can  I  repair  the  evil  that 
has  been  done?     The  Lord  shall  answer:  Since  you 
have  been  the  cause  of  his  perdition,  you  must  pay  me 
for  the  loss  of  his  soul.     "  I  will  require  his  blood  at 
thy  hands."    (Ezec.  iii.  20.)     It  is  written  in  Deuter 
onomy,  "  Thou  shalt  not  pity  him,  but  shalt  require  life 
for  life"  (xix.  21).     You  have  destroyed  a  soul ;   you 
must  suffer  the  loss  of  your  own.     Let  us  pass  to  the 
second  point. 

Second  Point. — The  great  punishment  which   God 
threatens  to  those  who  give  scandal. 

7.  "  Woe  to  that  man  by  whom  the  scandal  cometh." 
(Matt,  xviii.  7.)     If  the  displeasure  given  to  God  by 
scandal  be  great,  the  chastisement  which   awaits   the 
authors  of  it  must  be  frightful.    Behold  how  Jesus  Christ 
speaks  of  this  chastisement :  "  But  he  that  shall  scan 
dalize  one  of  these  little  ones  that  believe  in  me,  it  were 
better  for  him  that  a  mill-stone  should  be  hanged  about 
his  neck,  and  that  he  should  be  drowned  in  the  depth 
of  the  sea."  (Matt,  xviii.  6.)     If  a  malefactor  dies  on  the 
scaffold,  he  excites  the  compassion  of  the  spectators, 
who,  at  least,  pray  for  him,  if  they  cannot  deliver  him 
from  death.     But,  were  he  cast  into  the  depths  of  the 
sea,  there  should  be  no  one  present  to  pity  his  fate.     A 
certain  author  says,  that  Jesus  Christ  threatens  the  person 


170  SERMON    XXIII. 


who  scandalizes  a  brother  with  this  sort  of  punishment, 
to  signify  that  he  is  so  hateful  to  the  angels  and  saints, 
that  they  do  not  wish  to  recommend  to  God  the  man 
who  has  brought  a  soul  to  perdition.  "  He  is  declared 
unworthy  not  only  to  be  assisted,  but  even  to  be  seen." 
(Man si.  cap.  iii.  num.  4.) 

8.  St.  John  Chrysostom  says,  that  scandal  is  so  abo 
minable  in  the  eyes  of  God,  that  though  he  overlooks 
very  grievous  sins,  he  cannot  allow  the  sin  of  scandal 
to  pass  without  condign  punishment.     "  Tarn  Deo  hor- 
ribile  est  scandalum,  ut  peccata  graviora  dissimulet  non 
autem  peccata  ubi  frater  scandalizatur."     God  himself 
says  the  same  by  the  prophet  Ezechiel :  "  Every  man 
of  the  house  of  Israel,  if  he  ...  set  up  the  stumbling 
block  of  his  iniquity ...  I  will  make  him  an  example  and 
a  proverb,  and  will  cut  him  off  from  the  midst  of  my 
people."   (Ezec.  xiv.  7,  8.)     And,  in  reality,  scandal  is 
one  of  the  sins  which  we  find  in  the  sacred  Scriptures 
punished  by  God  with  the  greatest  rigour.     Of  Hcli, 
because  he   did  not  correct  his  sons,  who  gave  scandal 
by  stealing  the  flesh  offered  in  sacrifice  (for  parents  give 
scandal,  not  only  by  giving  bad  example,  but  also  by 
not  correcting  their  children  as  they  ought),  the  Lord 
said  :  "  Behold,  I  do  a  thing  in  Israel  :  and  whosoever 
shall  hear  it,  both  his  ears  shall  tingle."  (1  Kings,  iii. 
11.)     And  speaking  of  the  scandal  given  by  the  sons 
oflFeli,  the  inspired  writer  says:  "Wherefore  the  sin 
of  the  young   men   was   exceeding   great    before    the 
Lord."  (Ibid.  ii.  17.)   What  was  this  sin  exceeding  great? 
It  was,  says   St.   Gregory,  in  explaining  this  passage, 
drawing  others  to  sin.     "  Quia  ad  pecandum  alios  per- 
trahcbant."     Why  was  Jeroboam  chastised  ?     Because 
he  scandalized  the  people  :  he  "  hath  sinned,  and  made 
Israel  sin."  (3  Kings,  xiv.  16.)     In  the  family  of  Achab, 
all  the  members  of  which  were  the  enemies  of  God, 
Jezabel   was   the   most   severely  chastised.      She  was 
thrown  down  from  a  window,  and  devoured  by  dogs, 
so  that  nothing  remained  but  her  "  skull,  and  the  feet, 
and  the  extremities  of  her  hands."     And  why  was  she 
so  severely  punished  ?     Because  "  she  set  Achab  on  to 
every  evil." 

9.  For  the  sin  of  scandal  hell  was  created.     "  In  the 


ON    SCANDAL. 


171 


beginning  God  created  heaven  and  earth."  (Gen.  i.  !.)• 
But,  when  did  he  create  hell  ?  It  was  then  Lucifer 
began  to  seduce  the  angels  into  rebellion  against  (rod. 
Lest  he  should  continue  to  pervert  those  who  remained 
faithful  to  God,  he  was  banished  from  heaven  imme 
diately  after  his  sin.  Hence  Jesus  Christ  said  to  the 
Pharisees,  who,  by  their  bad  example,  scandalized  the 
people,  that  they  were  children  of  the  devil,  who  was 
from  the  beginning,  a  murderer  of  souls.  "  You  are  of 
your  father,  the  devil :  he  was  a  murderer  from  the 
beginning."  (John  viii.  44.)  And  when  St.  Peter  gave 
scandal  to  Jesus  Christ,  by  suggesting  to  him  not  to 
allow  his  life  to  be  taken  away  by  the  Jews,  and  thus 
endeavouring  to  prevent  the  accomplishment  of  redemp 
tion,  the  Redeemer  called  him  a  devil.  "  Go  behind 
me,  Satan ;  thou  art  a  scandal  to  me."  (Matt.  xvi.  23.)^ 
And,  in  reality,  what  other  office  do  the  authors  of 
scandal  perform,  than  that  of  a  minister  of  the  devil  ? 
If  he  were  not  assisted  by  such  impious  ministers,  he 
certainly  would  not  succeed  in  gaining  so  many  souls. 
A  scandalous  companion  does  more  injury  than  a  hun 
dred  devils. 

10.  On  the  words  of  Ezechias,  "Behold,  in  peace  is 
my  bitterness  most  bitter"  (Isa.  xxxviii.  17),  St.  Ber 
nard,  in  the  name  of  the  Church,  says  :  "  Peace  from 
pagans,  peace  from  heretics,  but  no  peace  from  children." 
At  present  the  Church  is  not  persecuted  by  idolaters, 
or  by  heretics,  but  she  is  persecuted  by  scandalous 
Christians,  who  are  her  own  children.  In  catching 
birds,  we  employ  decoys,  that  is,  certain  birds  that  are 
blinded,  and  tied  in  such  manner  that  they  cannot  fly 
away.  It  is  thus  the  devil  acts.  "  When,"  says  St. 
Ephrem,  "  a  soul  has  been  taken,  she  becomes  a  snare 
to  deceive  others."  After  having  made  a  young  man 
fall  into  sin,  the  enemy  first  blinds  him  as  his  own  slave, 
and  then  makes  him  his  decoy  to  deceive  others;  and  to 
draw  them  into  the  net  of  sin,  he  not  only  impels,  but 
even  forces  him  to  deceive  others.  "  The  enemy,"  says 
St.  Leo,  "  has  many  whom  he  compels  to  deceive  others." 
(Serm.  de  Nativ.) 

11.  Miserable  wretches!  the  authors  of  scandal  must 
suffer  in  hell  the  punishment  of  all  the  sins  they  have 


172  SERMON    XXI II. 


made  others  commit.  Cesarius  relates  (1.  2,  c.  vi.)  that, 
after  the  death  of  a  certain  person  who  had  given 
scandal,  a  holy  man  witnessed  his  judgment  and  con 
demnation,  and  saw  that,  at  his  arrival  at  the  gate  of 
hell,  all  the  souls  whom  he  had  scandalized  came  to 
meet  him,  and  said  to  him  :  Come,  accursed  wretch,  and 
atone  for  all  the  sins  which  you  have  made  us  commit. 
They  then  rushed  in  upon  him,  and  like  so  many  wild 
beasts,  began  to  tear  him  in  pieces.  St.  Bernard  says, 
that,  in  speaking  of  other  sinners,  the  Scriptures  hold 
out  hopes  of  amendment  and  pardon  ;  but  they  speak 
of  those  who  give  scandal  as  persons  separated  from 
God,  of  whose  salvation  there  is  very  little  hope.  "  Lo 
quitur  tanquam  a  Deo  separati,  unde  hisce  nulla  spes 
vital  esse  poterit." 

12.  Behold,  then,  the  miserable  state  of  those  who 
give  scandal  by  their  bad  example,  who  utter  immodest 
words  before  their  companions,  in  the  presence  of  young 
females,  and  even  of  innocent  children,  who,  in  conse 
quence   of  hearing   those   words,    commit   a   thousand 
sins.      Considering   how  the  angel-guardians  of  those 
little  ones  weep  at  seeing  them  in  the  state  of  sin,  and 
how  they  call  for  vengeance  from  God  against  the  sacri 
legious  tongues  that  have  scandalized  them.     A  great 
chastisement  awaits  all  who  ridicule  those  who  practise 
virtue.     For  many,  through  fear  of  the  contempt   and 
ridicule  of  others,  abandon  virtue,  and  give  themselves 
up  to  a  wicked  life.     What  shall  be  the  punishment  of 
those  who  bring  messages  to  induce  others  to  sin  ?  or  of 
those  who  boast  of  their  own  wicked  actions  ?     0  God  ! 
instead  of  weeping  and  repenting  for  having  offended 
the  Lord,  they  rejoice  and  glory  in   their  iniquities ! 
Some  advise  others  to  commit  sin  ;  others  induce  them 
to  it ;  and  some,  worse  than  the  devils,  teach  others  how 
to  sin.     What  shall  we  say  of  fathers  and  mothers,  who, 
though  it  is  in  their  power  to  prevent  the  sins  of  their 
children,  allow  them  to  associate  with  bad  companions, 
or  to  frequent  certain  dangerous  houses,  and  permit  their 
daughters  to  hold  conversations  with  young  men  ?     Oh! 
with  what  scourges  shall  we  see  such  persons  chastised 
on  the  day  of  judgment! 

13.  Perhaps  some  father  of  a  family  among  you  will 


ON    SCANDAL.  173 


say  :  Then,  I  am  lost  because  I  have  given  scandal?  Is 
there  no  hope  of  salvation  for  me  ?  No :  I  will  not  say 
that  you  are  past  hope — the  mercy  of  God  is  great. 
He  has  promised  pardon  to  all  who  repent.  But,  if  you 
wish  to  save  your  soul,  you  must  repair  the  scandal  you 
have  given.  "  Let  him,"  says  Eusebius  Emmissenus, 
"  who  has  destroyed  himself  by  the  destruction  of  many, 
redeem  himself  by  the  edification  of  many."  (Horn.  x. 
ad  Mon.)  You  have  lost  your  soul,  and  have  destroyed 
the  souls  of  many  by  your  scandals.  You  are  now 
bound  to  repair  the  evil.  As  you  have  hitherto  drawn 
others  to  sin,  so  you  are  bound  to  draw  them  to  virtue 
by  words  of  edification,  by  good  example,  by  avoiding 
sinful  occasions,  by  frequenting  the  sacraments,  by  going 
often  to  the  church  to  pray,  and  by  attending  sermons. 
And  from  this  day  forward  avoid,  as  you  would  death, 
every  act  and  word  which  could  scandalize  others. 
"  Let  their  own  ruin,"  says  St.  Cyprian,  "  suffice  for 
those  who  have  fallen."  (Lib.  1,  epis.  iii.)  And  St. 
Thomas  of  Yillanova  says:  "Let  your  own  sins  be 
sufficient  for  you."  What  evil  has  Jesus  Christ  done  to 
you  that  it  is  not  enough  for  you  to  have  offended  him 
yourselves,  but  you  wish  to  make  others  offend  him  ? 
This  is  an  excess  of  cruelty. 

14.  Be  careful,  then,  never  again  to  give  the  smallest 
scandal.  And  if  you  wish  to  save  your  soul,  avoid  as 
much  as  possible  those  who  give  scandal.  These  incar 
nate  devils  shall  be  damned ;  but,  if  you  do  not  avoid 
them,  you  will  bring  yourself  to  perdition.  ''  Woe  to 
the  world  because  of  scandals,"  says  the  Lord  (Matt. 
xviii.  7),  that  is,  many  are  lost  because  they  do  not  fly 
from  occasions  of  scandal.  But  you  may  say :  Such  a 
person  is  my  friend ;  I  am  under  obligations  to  him ;  I 
expect  many  favours  from  him.  But  Jesus  Christ  says : 
"  If  thy  right  eye  scandalize  thee,  pluck  it  out  and  cast 
it  from  thee.  It  is  better  for  thee,  having  one  eye,  to 
enter  into  life,  than,  having  two  eyes,  to  be  cast  into 
hell  fire."  (Matt,  xviii.  9.)  Although  a  certain  person 
was  your  right  eye,  you  must  withdraw  for  ever  from 
her ;  it  is  better  for  you  to  lose  an  eye  and  save  your 
soul,  than  to  preserve  it  and  be  cast  into  hell. 


174  SKRMON    XXIV. 


SERMON  XXIV.— THIRD  SUNDAY  AFTER 
EASTER. 

On  the  value  of  time,. 

"  A  little  while,  and  now  you  shall  not  see  me."— JOHN  xvi.  16. 

THERE  is  nothing  shorter  than  time,  hut  there  is  nothing 
more  valuable.  There  is  nothing  shorter  than  time; 
because  the  past  is  no  more,  the  future  is  uncertain,' 
and  the  present  is  but  a  moment.  This  is  what  Jesus 
Christ  meant  when  he  said:  "A  little  while,  and  now 
you  shall  not  see  me/'  We  may  say  the  same  of  our 
life,  which,  according  to  St.  James  is  but  a  vapour, 
which  is  soon  scattered  for  ever.  "  For  what  is  your 
life  ?  It  is  a  vapour  which  appeareth  for  a  little  while." 
(James  iv.  14.)  But  the  time  of  this  life  is  as  precious 
as  it  is  short;  for,  in  every  moment,  if  we  spend  it  well, 
we  can  acquire  treasures  of  merits  for  heaven  ;  but,  if 
we  employ  time  badly,  we  may  in  each  moment  commit 
sin,  and  merit  hell.  I  mean  this  day  to  show  you  how 
precious  is  every  moment  of  the  time  which  God  gives 
us,  not  to  lose  it,  and  much  less  to  commit  sin,  but  to 
perform  good  works  and  to  save  our  souls. 

1.  "Thus  saith  the  Lord:  In  an  acceptable  time  I 
have  heard  thee,  and  in  the  day  of  salvation  I  have 
helped  thee."  (Isa.  xlix.  8.)  St.  Paul  explains  this 
passage,  and  says,  that  the  acceptable  time  is  the  time 
in  which  God  has  determined  to  confer  his  favours  upon 
us.  He  then  adds:  " Behold,  now  is  the  acceptable 
time  ;  behold,  now  is  the  day  of  salvation."  (2  Cor.  vi. 
2.)  The  Apostle  exhorts  us  not  to  spend  unprofitably 
the  present  time,  which  he  calls  the  day  of  salvation  ; 
because,  perhaps,  after  this  day  of  salvation,  there  shall 
be  no  salvation  for  us.  "  The  time,"  says  the  same 

Apostle,    "is   short;   it   remaineth  that .they   that 

weep  be  as  though  they  wept  not;  that  they  that 
rejoice,  as  if  they  rejoiced  not ;  and  they  that  buy,  as 
though  they  possessed  not ;  and  they  that  use  this 
world,  as  if  they  used  it  not."  (1  Cor.  vii.  29,  30,  31.) 


VALUE   OF   TIME.  175 


Since,  then,  the  time  which  we  have  to  remain  on  this 
earth  is  short,  the  Apostle  tells  those  who  weep,  that 
they  ought  not  to  weep,  because  their  sorrows  shall 
soon  pass  away ;  and  those  who  rejoice,  not  to  fix  their 
affections  on  their  enjoyments,  because  they  shall  soon 
have  an  end.  Hence  he  concludes,  that  we  should  use 
this  world,  not  to  enjoy  its  transitory  goods,  but  to  merit 
eternal  life. 

2.  "  Son,"  says  the  Holy  Ghost,  "  observe  the  time." 
(Eccl.  iv.  '2 3.)     Son,  learn  to  preserve  time,  which  is  the 
most  precious  and  the  greatest  gift  that  God  can  bestow 
upon  you.     St.  Bernardino  of  Sienna  teaches  that  time 
is  of  as  much  value  as  God  ;  because  in  every  moment 
of  time  well  spent  the  possession  of  God  is  merited.    He 
adds  that  in  every  instant  of  this  life  a  man  may  obtain 
the  pardon  of  his  sins,  the  grace  of  God,  and  the  glory 
of  Paradise.      "  Modico  tempore   potest   homo   lucrari 
gratiain  et  gloriam."     Hence  St.  Bonaventure  says  that 
"  no  loss  is  of  greater  moment  than  the  loss  of  time." 
(Ser.  xxxvii.  in  Sept.) 

3.  But,  in  another  place,  St.  Bernardino  says  that, 
though  there  is  nothing  more  precious  than  time,  there 
is  nothing  less  valuable  in  the  estimation  of  men.     "  Nil 
pretiosius   tempore,  nil  vilius   reputatur."    (Ser.   ii.  ad 
Schol.)     You  will  see  some  persons  spending  four  or  five 
hours  in  play.     If  you  ask  them  why  they  lose  so  much 
time,  they  answer  :  To  amuse  ourselves.     Others  remain 
half  the  day  standing  in  the  street,  or  looking  out  from 
a  window.     If  you  ask  them  what  they  are  doing,  they 
shall  say  in  reply,  that  they  are  passing  the  time.     And 
why  says  the  same  saint,  do  you  lose  this  time  ?     Why 
should  you  lose  even  a  single  hour,  which  the  mercy  of 
God  gives  you  to  weep  for  your  sins,  and  to  acquire 
the  divine  grace  ?     "Donee  hora  pertranseat,  quam  tibi 
ad    agendam   poenitentiam,    ad    acquirendam   gratiam, 
miseratio  conditoris  indulserit." 

4.  0  time,  despised  by  men  during  life,  how  much 
shall  you  be  desired  at  the  hour  of  death,  and  parti 
cularly  in  the  other  world  !     Time  is  a  blessing  which 
we  enjoy  only  in  this  life;  it  is  not  enjoyed  in  the  next ; 
it  is  not  found  in  heaven  nor  in  hell.     In  hell,  the 
damned  exclaim  with  tears  :  "  Oh  !  that  an  hour  were 


176 


SERMON    XXIV. 


given  to  us."     They  would  pay  any  price  for  an  hour  or 
tor  a  minute,  in  which  they  might  repair  their  eternal 
rum.     But  this  hour  or  minute  they  never  shall  have. 
In  heaven  there  is  no  weeping;  but,  were  the  saints 
capable  of  sorrow,  all  their  wailing  should  arise  from  the 
thought  of  having  lost  in  this  life  the  time  in  which 
they  could  have  acquired  greater  glory,  and  from  the 
conviction  that  this  time  shall  never  more  be  given  to 
them.     A  deceased  Benedictine  nun  appeared  in  glory 
to  a  certain  person,  and  said  that  she  was  in  heaven, 
and  in  the  enjoyment  of  perfect  happiness ;  but  that,  if 
she  could  desire  anything,  it  would  be  to  return  to  life, 
and  to  suffer  affliction,  in  order  to  merit  an  increase  of 
glory.     And  she  added  that,  to  acquire  the  glory  which 
corresponded  to  a  single  Ave  Maria,  she  would  'be  con 
tent  to  suffer  till  the  day  of  judgment  the  long  and 
painful  sickness  which  brought  on  her  death.     Ilence, 
St.  Francis  Borgia  was  careful  to  employ  every  moment 
time  for  God.     When  others  spoke  of  useless 
things;  he  conversed  with  God  by  holy  affections;  and 
so  recollected  was   he   that,   when    asked   his   opinion 
on   the    subject   of   conversation,   he   knew   not   what 
answer  to  make.     Being  corrected  for  this,  he  said :  I 
am  content  to  be  considered  stupid,  rather  than  lose  my 
time  in  vanities. 

5.  Some  of  you  will  say  :  «  What  evil  am  I  doing  ?" 
s  it  not,  I  ask,  an  evil  to  spend  your  time  in  plays,  in 
conversations,  and  useless  occupations,  which  are  unpro 
fitable  to  the  soul  ?     Does  God  give  you  this  time  to  lose 
it  ?     "  Let  not,"  says  the  Holy  Ghost,  "  the  part  of  a 
good  gift  overpass  thee."  (Eccl.  xiv.  14.)     The  work 
men  of  whom  St.   Matthew  speaks  did  no  evil ;  they 
only  lost  time  by  remaining  idle  in   the  streets.     But 
they  were  rebuked  by  the  father  of  the  family,  sayino-  • 
MVhy  stand  you  here  all  the  day  idle  ?"  (Matt.  xx.  6.) 
On  the  day  of  judgment  Jesus  Christ  shall  demand  an 
account,  not  only  of  every  month  and  day  that  has  been 
lost,  but  even  of  every  idle  word.     "  Every  idle  word 
that  men  shall  speak,  they  shall  render  an  account  for 
it  on  the  day  of  judgment."  (Matt.  xii.   36.)     He  shall 
likewise  demand  an  account  of  every  moment  of  the 
time  which  you  shall  lose.     According  to  St.  Bernard, 


VALUE    OF    TIME.  177 


all   time   which   is   not   spent    for    God  is   lost   time. 

"^Omne  tempus  quo  de  Deo  non  cogitasti,  cogita  te  per- 

disse."  (Coll.  1,  cap.  viii.)     Hence  the  Holy  Gfhost  says: 

''  Whatsoever  thy  hand  is  able  to  do,  do  it  earnestly  : 

for  neither  work  nor  reason.  . .  .shall  be  in  hell,  whither 

thou  art  hastening."  (Eccl.  ix.  10.)     What  you  can  do 

to-day  defer  not  till  to-morrow ;  for  on  to-morrow  you 

may  be  dead,   and  may  be  gone  into  another  world, 

where  you  shall  have  no  more  time  to  do  good,   and 

where  you  shall  only  enjoy  the  reward  of  your  virtues, 

or  suffer  the  punishment  due  to  your  sins.     "  To-day 

if  you  shall  hear  his  voice,  harden  not  your  hearts." 

(Ps.  xciv.  8.)     God  calls  you  to  confess  your  sins,  to- 

restore    ill-gotten  ^  goods,   to   be   reconciled   with   your 

enemies.     Obey  his  call  to-day  ;  for  it  may  happen  that 

on  to-morrow  time  may  be  no  more  for  you,  or  that 

God  will  call  you  no  more.     All  our  salvation  depends 

on  corresponding  with  the  divine  calls,  and  at  the  time 

that  God  calls  us. 

6.  But  some  of  you  will  perhaps  say :  I  am  young  ; 
after   some   time   I   will   give   myself  to    God.      But,' 
remember  that  the  gospel  tells  us,  that  Jesus  Christ 
cursed   the   fig   tree   which    he    found    without    fruit, 
although  the  season  for  figs  had  not  yet  arrived.     "  It 
was^not  the  time  for  figs."  (Mark  xi.  13.)     By  this  the 
Saviour  wished  to  signify,  that  man  at  all  times,  even  in 
youth,  should  produce  fruits  of  good  works ;  and  that 
otherwise,  like^the  fig  tree,  he  shall  be  cursed,  and  shall 
produce  no  fruit  for  the  future.     "  May  no  man  here 
after  eat  any  more  fruit  of  thee  for  ever."  (Ibid.,  v.  1-i.) 
"  Delay  not  to  be  converted  to  the  Lord,  and  defer  it 
not  from  day  to  day;  for  his  wrath  shall  come  on  a 
sudden."  (Eod.  v.  8,  9.)     If  you  find  your  soul  in  the 
state  of  sin,  delay  not  your  repentance  nor  your  confes 
sion  ;  do  not  put  them  off  even  till  to-morrow ;  for,  if 
you  do  not  obey  the  voice  of  God  calling  you  to-day 
to  confess  your  sins,  death  may  this  day  overtake  you 
in  sin,  and  to-morrow  there  may  be  no  hope  of  salva 
tion  for  you.     The  devil  regards  the  whole  of  our  life 
as  very  short,  and  therefore  he  loses  not  a  moment  of 
time,  but  tempts  us  day  and   night.     "  The  devil   is 
come  down  unto  you  having  great  wrath,  knowing  that 

M 


178  SERMON    XXIV. 


he  hath  but  a  short  time."  (Apoc.  xii.  12.)  The  enemy, 
then,  never  loses  time  in  seeking  to  bring  us  to  hell : 
and  shall  we  squander  the  time  which  God  has  given  us 
to  save  our  souls  ? 

7.  You  say:  "I  will  hereafter  give  myself  to  God." 
But  fi  why/'  answers  St.  Bernard,  "  do  you,  a  miserable, 
sinner,  presume  on  the  future,  as  if  the  Father  placed 
time  in  your  power  ?"  (Serm.  xxxviii.,  de  Part.,  etc.) 
Why  do  you  presume  that  you  will  hereafter  give  your 
self  to   God,  as  if  he  had  given  to  you  the  time  and 
opportunity  of  returning  to  him  whenever  you  wish  ? 
Job  said  with  trembling,   that  he  knew  not  whether 
another  moment  of  his  life  remained  :  "  For  I  know 
not  how  long  I  shall  continue,   and  whether  after  a 
while  my  Maker  may  take  me  away."  (xxxii.  22.)     And 
you  say  :  I  will  not  go  to  confession  to-day  ;  I  will  think 
of  it  to-morrow.     "  Diem  tenes,"  says  St.   Augustine, 
"  qui  horam  non  tenes."     How  can  you  promise  your 
self  another  day,  when  you  know  not  whether  you  shall 
live  another  hour  ?     "  If,"  says  St.  Teresa,  "  '  you  are 
not  prepared  to  die  to-day,'  tremble,  lest  you  die  an 
unhappy  death." 

8.  {St.  Bernardino  weeps  over  the  blindness  of  those 
negligent  Christians  who  squander  the  days  of  salva 
tion,  and  never  consider  that  a  day  once  lost  shall  never 
return.  _   "  Transcunt   dies,    salutis   et   nemo   recogitat 
sibi  perire  diem   ut   nunquam   rediturum."  (Serm.    ad 
Scholar.)     At  the  hour  of  death  they  shall  wish  for 
another  year,  or  for  another  day  ;  but  they  shall  not 
have  it :  they  shall  then  be  told  that  "time  shall  be  no 
more."     What  price  would  they  not  then  give  for  an 
other  week,  for  a  day,  or  even  for  an  hour,  to  prepare 
the  account  which  they  must  then  render  to  God  ?     St. 
Lawrence  Justinian  says,  that  for  a  single  hour  they 
would  give  all  their  property,  all  their  honours,  and  all 
their  delights.     "  Erogaret  opes,  honores  delicias,   pro 
una  horula."  (Vit.  Solit.,  cap.  x.)     But  this  hour  shall 
not  be  granted  to  them.     The  priest  who  attends  them 
shall  say  :  Depart,  depart  immediately  from  this  earth  ; 
for  your  time  is  no  more.     "  Go  forth,  Christian  soul, 
from  this  world." 

9.  What  will  it  profit  the  sinner  who  has  led  an 


VALUE    OF   TIME.  179 


irregular  life,  to  exclaim  at  death  :  0  !  that  I  had  led  a 
life  of  sanctity!  0!  that  I  had  spent  my  years  in 
loving  God  !  How  great  is  the  anguish  of  a  traveller, 
who,  when  the  night  has  fallen,  perceives  that  he  has 
missed  the  way,  and  that  there  is  no  more  time  to 
correct  his  mistake  !  Such  shall  be  the  anguish  at  death 
of  those  who  have  lived  many  years  in  the  world,  but 
have  not  spent  them  for  God.  "  The  night  cometh  when 
no  man  can  work."  (John  ix.  4.)  Hence  the  Redeemer 
says  to  all:  (C  Walk  whilst  you  have  light,  that  the 
darkness  overtake  you  not."  (John  xii.  35.)  Walk  in 
the  way  of  salvation,  now  that  you  have  the  light,  before 
you  are  surprised  by  the  darkness  of  death,  in  which  you 
can  do  nothing.  You  can  then  only  weep  over  the  time 
which  you  have  lost. 

10.  He  hath  called  against  me  the  time."  (Thren.  i. 
15.)     At  the  hour  of  death,  conscience  will  remind  us 
of  all  the  time  which  we  have  had  to  become  saints,  and 
which  we  have  employed  in  multiplying  our  debts  to 
God.     It  will  remind  us  of  all  the  calls  and  of  all  the 
graces  which  he  has  given  us  to  make  us  love  him,  and 
which  we  have  abused.      At  that  awful  moment  we 
shall  also  see  that  the  way  of  salvation  is  closed  for  ever. 
In  the  midst  of  these  remorses,   and  of  the  torturing 
darkness  of  death,  the  dying  sinner  shall  say :  O  fool 
that  I  have  been  !     0  life  misspent !     0  lost  years,  in 
which  I  could  have  gained  treasures  of  merits,  and  have 
become  a  saint !  but  I  have  neglected  both,  and  now  the 
time  of  saving  my  soul  is  gone  for  ever.     But  of  what 
use  shall  these  wailings  and  lamentations  be,  when  the 
scene  of  this  world  is  about  to  close,  the  lamp  is  on  the 
point  of  being  extinguished,  and  when  the  dying  Chris 
tian  has  arrived  at  that  great  moment  on  which  eternity 
depends  ? 

11.  "  Be  you  then  also  ready  ;  for,  at  what  hour  you 
think  not,  the  Son  of  Man  will  come."   (Luke  xii.  40.; 
The  Lord  says  :  "  Be  prepared."     He  does  not  tell  us 
to  prepare  ourselves  when  death  approaches,   but  to  be 
ready  for  his  coming ;  because  when  we  think  least  of 
death,  the  Son  of  Man  shall  come  and  demand  an  ac- 
count  of  our  whole  life.     In  the  confusion  of  death,  it  will 
be  most  difficult  to  adjust  our  accounts,  so  as  to  appear 


180  SERMON   XXIV. 


guiltless  before  the  tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ.  Perhaps 
death  may  not  come  upon  us  for  twenty  or  thirty  years ; 
but  it  may  also  come  very  soon,  perhaps  in  a  year  or  in 
a  month.  If  any  one  had  reason  to  fear  that  a  trial 
should  take  place,  on  which  his  life  depended,  he  cer 
tainly  would  not  wait  for  the  day  of  the  trial,  but  would 
as  soon  as  possible  employ  an  advocate  to  plead  his 
cause.  And  what  do  we  do  ?  We  know  for  certain 
that  we  must  one  day  be  judged,  and  that  on  the  result 
of  that  judgment  our  eternal,  not  our  temporal,  life 
depends.  We  also  know  that  that  day  may  be  very 
near  at  hand ;  and  still  we  lose  our  time,  and,  instead 
of  adjusting  our  accounts,  we  go  on  daily  multiplying 
the  crimes  which  will  merit  for  us  the  sentence  of 
eternal  death. 

12.  If,  then,  we  have  hitherto  employed  our  time  in 
offending  God,  let  us  henceforth  endeavour  to  bewail 
our  misfortune  for  the  remainder  of  our  life,  and  say 
continually  with  the  penitent  King  Ezechias :  "  I  will 
recount  to  thee  all  my  years  in  the  bitterness  of  my 
soul."  (Isn.  xxxviii.  15.)  The  Lord  gives  us  the  remain 
ing  days  of  life,  that  we  may  compensate  the  time  that 
has  been  badly  spent.  "  Whilst  we  have  time,  let  us 
work  good."  (Gal.  vi.  10.)  Let  us  not  provoke  the  Lord 
to  punish  us  by  an  unhappy  death  ;  and  if,  during  the 
years  that  are  passed,  we  have  been  foolish,  and  have 
offended  him,  let  us  now  attend  to  the  Apostle  exhort 
ing  us  to  be  wise  for  the  future,  and  to  redeem  the  time 
we  have  lost.  "  See,  therefore,  brethren,  now  you  walk 
circumspectly,  not  as  unwise,  but  as  wise,  redeeming  the 
time,  because  the  days  are  evil,... understanding  what  is 
the  will  of  God/'  (Eph.  v.  15,  16,  17.)  "  The  days  are 
evil."  According  to  St.  Anselm,  the  meaning  of  these 
words  is,  that  the  days  of  this  life  are  evil,  because  in 
them  we  are  exposed  to  a  thousand  temptations  and 
dangers  of  eternal  misery ;  and  therefore,  to  escape 
perdition,  all  possible  care  is  necessary.  "  What,"  says 
St.  Augustine,  "  is  meant  by  redeeming  the  time,  unless, 
when  necessary,  to  submit  to  temporal  loss  in  order  to 
gain  eternal  goods  ?"  (de  horn.  50,  horn,  i.)  We  should 
live  only  to  fulfil  with  all  diligence  the  divine  will ;  and, 
should  it  be  necessary,  it  is  better  to  suffer  in  temporal 


VALUE    OF   TIME.  181 


things,  than  to  neglect  our  eternal  interests.  Oh !  how 
well  did  St.  Paul  redeem  the  time  which  he  had  lost ! 
St.  Jerome  says,  that  though  the  last  of  the  apostles,  he 
was,  on  account  of  his  great  labours,  the  first  in  merits. 
"  Paul,  the  last  in  order,  but  the  first  in  merits,  because 
he  laboured  more  than  all."  Let  us  consider  that,  in 
each  moment,  we  may  lay  up  greater  treasures  of  eternal 
goods.  If  the  possession  of  all  the  land  round  which 
you  could  walk,  or  of  all  the  money  which  you  could 
count  in  a  day,  were  promised  you,  would  you  lose  time? 
or  would  you  not  instantly  begin  to  walk  over  the 
ground,  or  to  reckon  the  money  ?  You  now  have  it  in 
your  power  to  acquire,  in  each  moment,  eternal  trea 
sures  ;  and  will  you,  notwithstanding,  misspend  your 
time  ?  Do  not  say,  that  what  you  can  do  to-day  you 
can  also  do  to-morrow  ;  because  this  day  shall  be  then 
lost  to  you,  and  shall  never  return.  You  have  this  day; 
but  perhaps  to-morrow  will  not  be  given  you. 


SERMON  XXV.— FOURTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
EASTER. 

On  obedience  to  your  confessor. 

"Whither  goest  thou  ?" — JOHN   xiii.   I'd. 

To  gain  heaven  we  must  walk  in  the  path  that  leads  to 
Paradise.  Many  Christians,  who  have  faith,  but  not 
works,  live  in  sin,  intent  only  on  the  pleasures  and  goods 
of  this  world.  If  you  say  to  one  of  them  :  you  are  a 
Christian ;  you  believe  that  there  is  an  eternity,  a 
heaven,  and  a  hell :  tell  me,  do  you  wish  to  save  your 
soul  ?  If  you  do,  I  will  ask  you,  in  the  words  of  this 
day's  gospel,  "  whither  goest  thou?"  He  will  answer: 
I  do  not  know,  but  I  hope  to  be  saved.  You  know  not 
whither  you  are  going.  How  can  you  hope  for  salva 
tion  from  God,  if  you  live  in  a  state  of  perdition  ? 
How  can  you  expect  heaven,  if  you  walk  in  the  way 
that  leads  to  hell  ?  It  is  necessary,  then,  to  change  the 
road  ;  and  for  this  purpose  you  must  put  yourself  in 
the  hands  of  a  good  confessor,  who  will  point  out  to 


182  SERMON    XXV. 


you  the  way  to  heaven,  and  you  must  obey  him  punc 
tually.  "  My  sheep,"  said  Jesus  Christ,  "  hear  my 
voice."  (John  x.  27.)  We  have  not  Jesus  Christ  on 
earth  to  make  us  sensibly  hear  his  voice  ;  but,  in  his 
stead,  he  has  left  us  his  priests,  and  has  told  us,  that  he 
who  hears  them  hears  him,  and  he  who  despises  them 
despises  him.  "  He  that  heareth  you  hcareth  me,  and 
he  that  despiseth  you  despiseth  me."  (Luke  x.  16.) 
Happy  they  who  are  obedient  to  their  spiritual  father  : 
unhappy  they  who  do  not  obey  him  ;  for,  by  their  dis 
obedience,  they  give  a  proof  that  they  are  not  among 
the  sheep  of  Jesus  Christ.  I  intend  this  day  to  show, 
in  the  first  point,  how  secure  of  salvation  are  all  who 
obey  their  confessor ;  and,  in  the  second  point,  how 
great  the  danger  of  perdition  to  which  they  who  do  not 
obey  him  are  exposed. 

First  Point.  How  secure  of  salvation  are  they  who 
obey  their  confessor. 

1.  In  leaving  us  spiritual  fathers  to  guide  us  in  the 
way  of  salvation  Jesus  Christ  has  bestowed  upon  us  a 
great  benefit.  To  obtain  salvation  we  must  follow  the 
will  of  God  in  all  things.  What,  I  ask,  is  necessary  in 
order  to  save  our  souls  and  to  become  saints  ?  Some 
imagine  that  sanctity  consists  in  performing  many  works 
of  penance  ;  but  were  a  sick  man  to  perform  mortifica 
tions  which  would  expose  him  to  the  proximate  danger 
of  death,  he  would,  instead  of  becoming  a  saint,  be 
guilty  of  a  very  grievous  sin.  Others  think  that  per 
fection  consists  in  long  and  frequent  prayers ;  but 
should  the  father  of  a  family  neglect  the  education 
of  his  children  and  go  into  the  desert  to  pray,  he,  too, 
would  commit  sin  ;  because,  although  prayer  is  good,  a 
parent  is  bound  to  take  care  of  his  children,  and  he 
can  fulfil  the  precept  of  prayer  and  attention  to  their 
instruction  without  going  into  the  desert.  Others 
believe  that  holiness  consists  in  frequent  communion  ; 
but  if,  in  spite  of  a  just  command  of  her  husband, 
and  to  the  injury  of  her  family,  a  married  woman 
wished  to  communicate  every  morning,  she  would  act 
improperly,  and  would  have  to  render  an  account  of 
her  conduct  to  God.  In  what,  then,  does  sanctity 


OBEDIENCE    TO    YOUR    CONFESSOR.  183 

consist  ?  It  consists  in  the  perfect  fulfilment  of  the 
will  of  God.  All  the  sins  which  brings  souls  to  hell 
proceed  from  self-will ;  let  us,  then,  says  St.  Bernard, 
cease  to  do  our  own  will ;  let  us  follow  the  will  of  God, 
and  for  us  there  shall  be  no  hell.  "  Cesset  propria 
voluntas,  et  infernus  non  erit."  (St.  Bern.  serm.  iii.,  de 
Resur.) 

2.  But  some  of  you  will  ask :  How  shall  we  know 
what  God  wills  us  to  do  ?     This  is  a  matter  which,  ac 
cording  to  David,  is  involved  in  great  doubts  and  ob 
scurity.     "  Of  the  business  that  walketh  about  in  the 
dark."  (Ps.  xc.  6.)     Many  deceive  themselves  ;  for  pas 
sion  often  makes  them  believe  that  they  do  the  will  of 
God,  when,  in  reality,  they  do  their  own  will.     Let  us 
thank  without  ceasing  the  goodness  of  Jesus   Christ, 
who  has  taught  us  the  secure  means  of  ascertaining  the 
will   of  God   in  our  regard,   by  telling  us  that,  if  we 
obey  our  confessor,  we  obey  himself.     <k  He  that  heareth 
you,  heareth  me."     In  the  book  of  the  foundations, 
chapter  x.,  St.  Teresa  says:  "Let  a  soul  take  a  confessor 
with  a  determination  to  think  no  more  of  herself,  but  to 
trust  in  the  words  of  our  Lord :  l  He  that  heareth  you, 
heareth  me."      She  adds,  that  this  is  the  secure  way  of 
rinding  the  will  of  God.     Hence  the  saint  acknowledged 
that  it  was  by  obedience  to  the  voice  of  her  director  that 
she  attained  to  the  knowledge  and  love  of  God.     Hence, 
speaking  of  obedience  to  one's  confessor,  St.  Francis  de 
Sales  adopts  the  words  of  Father  M.  Avila.     How  much 
soever  you  seek,  you  shall  never  find  the  will  of  God  so 
securely,  as  by  this  way  of  humble  obedience  so  much 
recommended   and    practised    by    the    ancient    saints. 
(Introd.,  etc.,  cap.  iv.) 

3.  He  that  acts  according  to  the  advice  of  his  con 
fessor,  always  pleases  God  when,  through  obedience,  he 
either  practises  or  omits  prayer,  mortifications,  or  com 
munions.     He  even  merits  a  reward  before  God  when, 
to  obey  his  confessor,  he  takes  recreation,  when  he  eats 
or   drinks,   because   he   does  the  will  of  God.     Hence 
the  Scripture  says  that  "  much  better  is  obedience  than 
the  victories  of  fools."  (Eccl.  iv.  17.)     Obedience  is  more 
pleasing  to   God  than  all  the  sacrifices  of  penitential 
works,   or  of  alms-deeds,   which  we  can  offer  to  him. 


184  SERMON    XXV. 


lie  that  sacrifices  to  God  his  property  by  alms-deeds,  his 
honour  by  bearing  insults,  or  his  body  by  mortifications, 
by  fasts  and  penitential  rigours,  offers  to  him  a  part  of 
himself  and  of  what  belongs  to  him  ;  but  he  that  sacri 
fices  to  God  his  will,  by  obedience,  gives  to  him  all  that 
he  has,  and  can  say :  Lord,  having  given  you  my  will,  I 
have  nothing  more  to  give  you. 

4.  Thus,  obedience  to  a  confessor  is  the  most  accept 
able  offering  which  we  can  make  to  God,  and  the  most 
secure  way  of  doing  the  divine  will.     Blessed  Henry 
Suson  says,  that  God  does  not  demand  an  account  of 
what  we  do  through  obedience.     Obey,  says  the  Apostle, 
your  spiritual  fathers  ;  and  fear  not  anything  which  you 
do  through  obedience  ;  for  they,  and  not  you,  shall  have 
to  render  an  account  of  your  conduct.     "  Obey  your  pre 
lates,  and  be  subject  to  them  ;  for  they  watch,  as  being 
to  render  an  account  of  your  souls  ;  that  they  may  do 
this  with  joy  and  not  with  grief."  (Ileb.  xiii.  17.)   Mark 
the  last  words  :  they  signify,  that  penitents  should  obey 
without  reply,  and  without  causing  pain  and  sorrow  to 
their  confessor.     Oh  !  what  grief  do  confessors  feel  when 
penitents  endeavour,  by  certain  pretexts  and  unjust  com 
plaints,  to  excuse  themselves  from  obedience  !     Let  us, 
then,  obey  our  spiritual  father  without  reply,  and  let  us 
fear  not  that  we  shall  have  to  account  for  any  act  which 
wo  do  through  obedience.      "  They,"  says  St.  Philip 
Neri,  "  who  desire  to  advance  in  the  way  of  God,  should 
place  themselves  under  a  learned  confessor,  whom  they 
will  obey  in  the  place  of  God.     They  who  do  so  may  be 
assured  that  they  shall  not  have  to  render  to  God  an 
account  of  their  actions."     Hence,  if  you  practice  obe 
dience,  and  if  Jesus  Christ  should  ask  you  on  the  day  of 
judgment  why  you  have  chosen  such  a  state  of  life  ?  why 
you  have  communicated  so  frequently  ?  why  you  have 
omitted  certain  works  of  penance  ?  you  will  answer  :  0 
Lord,  I  have  done  all  in  obedience  to  my  confessor : 
and  Jesus  Christ  cannot  but  approve  of  what  you  have 
done. 

5.  Father  Marchese  relates,  that  St.  Dominic  once 
felt  a  scruple  in   obeying  his  confessor,  and  that  our 
Lord  said  to  him  :  "  Why  do  you  hesitate  to  obey  your 
director  ?     All  that  he  directs  will  be  useful  to  you." 


OBEDIENCE   TO    YOUR    CONFESSOR.  185 

Hence  St.  Bernard  says,  that  "  whatever  a  man,  hold 
ing  the  place  of  God  commands,  provided  it  be  not  cer 
tainly  sinful,  should  be  received  as  if  the  command 
came  from  God  himself"  (de  Prsecep.  et  Discep.,  cap.  xi.). 
Gerson  relates,  that  the  same  St.  Bernard  ordered  one 
of  his  disciples,  who,  through  scruples,  was  afraid  to  say 
Mass,  to  go,  and  trusting  in  his  advice,  to  offer  the  holy 
sacrifices.  The  disciple  obeyed,  and  was  cured  of  scru 
ples.  Some,  adds  Gerson,  will  say  :  "  Would  to  God  that 
I  had  a  St.  Bernard  for  my  director:  my  confessor  is 
not  a  St.  Bernard.  "  Whosoever  you  are  that  speak  in 
this  manner,  you  err ;  for  you  have  not  put  yourself 
under  the  care  of  man  because  he  is  learned,  but  because 
he  is  placed  over  you.  Obey  him,  then,  not  as  a  man, 
but  as  God.''  (Tract,  de  Prsop.  ad  Miss.)  You  have 
intrusted  the  care  of  your  soul  to  a  confessor,  not  because 
he  is  a  man  of  learning,  but  because  God  has  given  him 
to  you  as  a  guide ;  and,  therefore,  you  ought  to  obey 
him,  not  as  a  man,  but  as  God. 

6.  "  An  obedient  man  shall  speak  of  victory."  (Prov. 
xxi.  28.)  Justly,  says  St.  Gregory,  has  the  Wise  Man 
asserted,  that  they  who  are  obedient  shall  overcome  the 
temptations  of  hell :  because,  as  by  their  obedience, 
they  subject  their  own  will  to  men,  so  they  make  them 
selves  superior  to  the  devils,  who  fell  through  disobe 
dience.  "  The  obedient  are  conquerors  ;  because,  whilst 
they  subject  their  will  to  others,  they  rule  over  the 
angels  that  have  fallen  through  disobedience"  (in  lib. 
Beg.,  cap.  x.)  Cassian  teaches,  that  he  who  mortifies 
self-will  beats  down  all  vices  ;  because  all  vices  proceed 
from  self-will.  "  By  the  mortification  of  the  will  all 
vices  are  dried  up."  He  who  obeys  his  confessor,  over 
comes  all  the  illusions  of  the  devil,  who  sometimes  makes 
us  expose  ourselves  to  dangerous  occasions  under  pretext 
of  doing  good,  and  makes  us  engage  in  certain  under 
takings  which  appear  holy,  but  which  may  prove  very 
injurious  to  us.  Thus,  for  example,  the  enemy  induces 
certain  devout  persons  to  practise  immoderate  austerities, 
which  impair  their  health  ;  they  then  give  up  all  morti 
fications,  and  return  to  their  former  irregularities.  This 
happens  to  those  who  direct  themselves  ;  but  they  who 
are  guided  by  their  confessor  are  not  in  danger  of  fall 
ing  into  such  an  illusion. 


186  SERMON    XXV. 


7.  The   devil   labours   to    make    scrupulous    persons 
afraid  that  they  will  commit  sin  if  they  follow  the  advice 
of  their  confessor.     We  must  be  careful  to  overcome  these 
vain  fears.     All  theologians  and  spiritual  writers  com 
monly  teach,  that  it  is  our  duty  to  obey  the  directions  of 
our    confessors,    and    conquer    our    scruples.      Natalis 
Alexander  says,  that  we  must  act  against  scruples  ;  and 
in  support  of  this  doctrine,  he  adduces  the  doctrine  of 
St.  Antonine,  who,  along  with  Gerson,  censures  scrupu 
lous  persons  for  refusing,  through  vain  fears,  to  obey 
their  confessor,  and  to  overcome   scruples.     "  Beware, 
lest,  while  you  seek  security,  you  rush  into  a  pit."     Be 
careful  not,  through  an  excess  of  fear,  to  fall  into  the 
illusions   of  the   devil,    by    disobeying    your    director. 
Hence  all  the  spiritual  masters  exhort  us  to  obey  our 
confessors  in  everything  which  is  not  manifestly  sinful. 
B.    Hubert,    of  the  order  of  St.   Dominic,   says   that, 
"  unless  what  is  commanded  is  evidently  bad,  it  ought 
to  be  received  as  if  it  were  commanded  by  God"  (lib.  de 
Erud.    llcl.,   cap.    1).      Blessed   Denis   the  Carthusian 
teaches,  that  "  in  doubtful  matters  we  must  obey  the 
precept  of  a  superior  ;  because,  though  it  may  be  against 
God,  a  subject  is  excused  from  sin  on  account  of  obe 
dience"  (in  2,  dis.  xxxix.,  qu.  3).     According  to  Gerson 
(tr.   de  consc.   et  scrup.),   to   act  against  a  conscience 
formed  with  deliberation,  and  to  act  against  a  fear  of 
sinning   in   some   doubtful   matter,    are   very   different 
things.     He  adds,  that  we  should  banish  this  fear,  and 
obey   our   confessor.      "  Iste   timor,   quam   fieri   potest 
adjiciendus."     In  a  word,  he  who  obeys  his  spiritual 
father  is  always  secure.     St.  Francis  de  Sales  used  to 
say,  that  "  a  truly  obedient  soul  has  never  been  lost ;" 
and  that  we  should  be  satisfied  to  know  from  our  con 
fessor  that  we  are  going  on  well  in  the  way  of  God, 
without  seeking  further  certainty  of  it. 

Second  Point.  How  great  is  the  danger  of  perdition 
to  which  they  who  do  not  obey  their  confessor  are  ex 
posed. 

8.  Jesus  Christ  has  said,  that  he  who  hears  his  priest, 
hears  him;  and  that  he  who  despises  them,  despises  him. 
"  Qui  vos  spernit,  me  spernit."  (Luc.  x.  15.)     "When  the 


OBEDIENCE    TO    YOUR    CONFESSOR.  187 


Prophet  Eliseus  complained  of  the  contempt  which  he 
had  received  from  the  people,  after  God  had  charged 
him  with  the  direction  of  them,  the  Lord  said  to  him  : 
"  They  have  not  rejected  thee,  but  me,  that  I  should 
not  reign  over  them."  (1  Kings  viii.  7.)  They,  then, 
who  despise  the  advice  of  their  confessors,  despise  God 
himself,  who  has  made  confessors  his  own  representa 
tives. 

9.  "  Obey  your  prelates,"  says  St.   Paul,    "  and  be 
subject  to  them ;  for  they  watch,  as  being  to  render 
an  account  of  your  souls:  that  they  may  do  this  with 
joy  and  not  with  grief;  for,  this  is  not  expedient  for 
you."  (Heb.  xiii.   17.)      Some  penitents  contend  with 
their  confessor,  and  endeavour  to  make  him  adopt  their 
own  opinion.     This  is  the  cause   of  grief  to  spiritual 
directors.     But  the  apostle  says,  "  this  is  not  expedient 
for  you  ;"  because,  when  the  confessor  finds  that  you  do 
not  obey  him,  and  that  it  is  only  with  difficulty  he  can 
induce  you  to  walk  in  the  straight  path,  he  will  give  up 
the  direction  of  your  soul.     How  deplorable  the  con 
dition  of  a  vessel  which  a  pilot  refuses  to  steer  !     How 
miserable  the  state  of  a  sick  man  who  is  abandoned  by 
his  physician  !     When  a  patient  refuses  to  obey,  or  to 
take  the  medicine  which  has  been  prescribed — when  he 
eats  and  drinks  what  he  pleases — the  physician  abandons 
him,  and  allows  him  to  follow  his  own  caprice.     But, 
what  hope  can  be  entertained  of  the  recovery  of  such  a 
patient?     "Woe  to  him  that  is  alone, ..  .he  hath  none 
to  lift  him  up."  (Eccl.  iv.  10.)     Woe  to   the  penitent 
who  wishes  to  direct  himself :  he  shall  have  no  one  to 
enlighten  or  correct  him,  he  will  therefore  rush  into  an 
abyss. 

10.  To  every  one  that   comes   into  this   world   the 
Holy  Ghost  says:  "Thou  art  going  in  the   midst   of 
snares."  (Eccl.  ix.  20.)     We  all,  on  this  earth,  walk  in 
the  midst  of  a  thousand  snares  ;  that  is,  in  the  midst  of 
the  temptations  of  the  devil,  dangerous  occasions,  bad 
companions,   and  our  own  passions,   which   frequently 
deceive  us.     Who  shall  be  saved  in  the  midst  of  so  many 
dangers  ?     The  Wise  Man  says :  "  He  that  is  aware  of 
the  snares  shall  be  secure."  (Prov.  xi.  15.)     They  only 
who  avoid  these  snares  shall  be  saved.     How  shall  we 


188 


SERMON"    XXV. 


avoid  them  ?  If  you  had  to  pass  by  night  through  a 
wood  full  of  precipices,  without  a  guide  to  give  you 
light,  and  to  point  out  to  you  the  dangerous  passages, 
you  would  certainly  run  a  great  risk  of  losing  your  life. 
You  wish  to  direct  yourself:  "Take  heed,  therefore, 
that  the  light  which  is  in  thee  he  not  darkness."  (Luke 
xi.  45.)  The  light  which  you  think  you  possess  will  be 
your  ruin  ;  it  will  lead  you  into  a  pit. 

11.  God  wills  that,  in  the  way  of  salvation,  we  all 
submit  to  the  guidance  of  our  director.     Such  has  been 
the  practice  of  even  the  most  learned  among  the  saints. 
In  spiritual  things  the  Lord  wishes  us  to  humble  our 
selves,  and  to  put  ourselves  under  a  confessor,  who  will 
be  our  guide.     Gerson  teaches,  that  he  who  neglects 
the  advice  of  his  director,  and  directs  himself,  does  not 
require  a  devil  to  tempt  him  :  he  becomes  a  devil  to 
himself.     "  Qui  spreto  duce,  sibi  dux  esse  vult,  non  in- 
diget  dromone  tentante,  quia  factus  est  sibi  ipse  daemon." 
(Cons,  de  Lib.  Reg.)     And  when  God  sees  that  he  will 
not  obey  his  minister,  he  allows  him  to  follow  his  own 
caprice.     "  So  I  let  them  go  according  to  the  desires  of 
their  own  hearts."  (Ps.  Ixxx.  13.) 

12.  "  It  is  like  the  sin  of  witchcraft  to  rebel :  and 
like  the  crime  of  idolatry  to  refuse  to  obey."  (1  Kings 
xv.  23.)     In  explaining  this  text,  St.  Gregory  says,  that 
the   sin    of  idolatry   consists   in   abandoning  God  and 
adoring  an  idol.     This  a  penitent  does  when  he  disobeys 
his  confessor  to  do  his  own  will :  he  refuses  to  do  the 
will^  of  God,  who  has  spoken  to  him  by  means  of  his 
minister ;  he  adores  the  idol  of  self-will,  and  does  what 
he  pleases.     Hence  St.   John  of  the  Cross  says  that, 
"  not  to  follow  the  advice  of  our  confessor  is  pride  and  a 
want  of  faith."  (Tratt.  delle  spine,  torn,  iii.,  col.  4,  §  2, 
n.  8)  ;  for  it  appears  to  proceed  from  a  want  of  faith  in 
the  Gospel,  in  which  Jesus  Christ  has  said:  "He  that 
heareth  you,  heareth  me." 

13.  If,  then,  you  wish  to  save  your  souls,  obey  your 
confessor  punctually.     Be  careful  to  have  a  fixed  con 
fessor,  to  whom  you  will  ordinarily  make  your  confes 
sion  ;    and   avoid   going   about   from    one   confessor   to 
another.     Make  choice  of  a  learned  priest ;  and,  in  the 
beginning,  make  to  him  a  general  confession,  which,  as 


CONDITIONS    OF    PRAYER.  189 

we  know  by  experience,  is  a  great  help  to  a  true  change 
of  life.  After  having  made  choice  of  a  confessor,  you 
should  not  leave  him  without  a  just  and  manifest  cause. 
"  Every  time,"  says  St.  Teresa,  "  That  I  resolved  to 
leave  my  confessor,  I  felt  within  me  a  reproof  more 
painful  than  that  which  I  received  from  him." 


*  SERMON  XXVI.— FIFTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
EASTER. 

On  the  conditions  of  prayer. 

"  Ask,  and  ye  shall  receive." — JOHN  xvi.  24. 

IN  the  thirty-ninth  Sermon  I  shall  show  the  strict 
necessity  of  prayer,  and  its  infallible  efficacy  to  obtain 
for  us  all  the  graces  which  can  be  conducive  to  our 
eternal  salvation.  "  Prayer,"  says  St.  Cyprian,  "  is  om 
nipotent  ;  it  is  one  ;  it  can  do  all  things."  We  read  in 
Ecclesiasticus  that  God  has  never  refused  to  hear  any 
one  who  invoked  his  aid.  "  Who  hath  called  upon  him, 
and  he  hath  despised  him?"  (Eccl.  ii.  12.)  This  he 
never  can  do  ;  for  he  has  promised  to  hear  all  who  pray 
to  him.  "  Ask,  and  ye  shall  receive."  But  this  promise 
extends  only  to  prayer  which  has  the  necessary  condi 
tions.  Many  pray ;  but  because  they  pray  negligently, 
they  do  not  obtain  the  graces  they  deserve.  "  You  ask, 
and  receive  not,  because  you  ask  amiss."  (St.  James  iv. 
3.)  To  pray  as  we  ought,  we  must  pray,  first,  with 
humility  ;  secondly,  with  confidence  ;  and  thirdly,  with 
perseverance. 

First  Point.  "We  must  pray  with  humility. 

1.  St.  James  tells  us,  that  God  rejects  the  prayers  of 
the  proud:  " God  resisteth  the  proud,  and  giveth  grace 
to  the  humble"  (iv.  6).  He  cannot  bear  the  proud  ;  he 
rejects  their  petitions,  and  refuses  to  hear  them.  Let 
those  proud  Christians  who  trust  in  their  own  strength, 
and  think  themselves  better  than  others,  attend  to  this, 
and  let  them  remember  that  their  prayers  shall  be  re 
jected  by  the  Lord. 


J90  SERMON    XXVI. 


2.  But  lie  always  hears  the  prayers  of  the  humble : 
"  The  prayer  of  him  that  humbleth  himself  pierceth  the 
clouds  ;  and  he  will  not  depart  till  the  Most  High  behold." 
(Eccl.  xxxv.  21.)     David  says,  that  "The  Lord  hath  had 
regard  to  the  prayer  of  the  humble."  (Ps.  ci.  18.)     The 
cry  of  the  humble  man  penetrates  the  heavens,  and  he 
will  not  depart  till  God  hears  his  prayer.     "  You  humble 
yourself,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  and  God  comes  to  you  ; 
you  exalt  yourself,   and  he  flies  from  you."      If  you 
humble  yourself,  God  himself  comes,  of  his  own  accord, 
to  embrace  you  ;  but,  if  you  exalt  yourself,  and  boast  of 
your  wisdom  and  of  your  actions,  he  withdraws  from 
you,  and  abandons  you  to  your  own  nothingness. 

3.  The  Lord  cannot  despise  even  the  most  obdurate 
sinners,  when  they  repent  from  their  hearts,  and  humble 
themselves  before  him,   acknowledging   that   they   are 
unworthy  to  receive  any  favour  from  him.     "  A  contrite 
and  humble  heart,  0  God,  thou  wilt  not  despise."  (Ps. 
1,  19.)     Let  us  pass  to  the  other  points,  in  which  there 
is  a  great  deal  to  be  said. 

Second  Point.     We  must  pray  with  confidence. 

4.  *'  No  one  hath  hoped  in  the  Lord,  and  hath  been 
confounded."  (Eccl.  ii.  11.)     Oh!  how  encouraging  to 
sinners  are  these  words  !     Though  they  may  have  com 
mitted  the  most  enormous  crimes,  they  are  told  by  the 
Holy  Ghost,  that  "  no  man  hath  hoped  in  the  Lord,  and 
hath  been  confounded."     No  man  hath  ever  placed  his 
trust  in  God,  and  has  been  abandoned.     He  that  prays 
with  confidence  obtains  whatever  he  asks.     "  All  things 
whatsoever  you  ask  when  you  pray,  believe  that  you 
shall  receive,  and  they  shall  come  unto  you."  (Mark  xi. 
24.)     When  we  pray  for  spiritual  favours,  let  us  have  a 
secure  confidence  of  receiving  them,  and  we  shall  in 
fallibly  obtain  them.     Hence  the  Saviour  has  taught  us 
to  call  God,  in  our  petitions  for  his  graces,  by  no  other 
name  than  that  of  Father  ( Our  Father),  that  we  may 
have  recourse  to  him  with  the  confidence  with  which  a 
child  seeks  assistance  from  an  affectionate  parent. 

o.  Who,  says  St.  Augustine,  can  fear  that  Jesus 
Christ,  who  is  truth  itself,  can  violate  his  promise  to  all 
who  pray  to  him  ?  "  Who  shall  fear  deception  when 


CONDITIONS    OF    PRAYER.  191 

truth  promises  ?"  Is  God  like  men,  who  promise,  and 
do  not  afterwards  fulfil  their  promise,  either  because  in 
making  it  they  intend  to  deceive,  or  because,  after  hav 
ing  made  it,  they  change  their  intention  ?  "  God  is  not 
as  a  man,  that  he  should  lie,  nor  as  the  son  of  man,  that 
he  should  be  changed.  Hath  he  told,  then,  and  will  he 
not  do  ?"  (Num.  xxiii.  19.)  Our  God  cannot  tell  a  lie  ; 
because  he  is  truth  itself :  he  is  not  liable  to  change  ; 
because  all  his  arrangements  are  just  and  holy. 

6.  And  because  he  ardently  desires  our  welfare,  he 
earnestly  exhausts  and  commands  us  to  ask  the  graces  we 
stand  in  need  of.     "  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given  you ; 
seek,  and  you  shall  find  ;  knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened 
to   you."    (Matt.  vii.   7.)      Why,  says  St.    Augustine, 
should  the  Lord  exhort  us  so  strongly  to  ask  his  graces, 
if  he  did  not  wish  to  give  them  to  us  ?     "  Non  nos  hor- 
taretur,  ut  peteremus,  nisi  dare  vellet"  (de  Yerb.  Dom., 
ser.  v.)     He  has  even  bound  himself  by  his  promise  to 
hear  our  prayers,  and  to  bestow  upon  us  all  the  graces 
which  we  ask  with  a  confidence  of  obtaining  them.  "  By 
his  promises  he  has  made  himself  a  debtor."  (S.  Augus., 
ibid.,  ser.  ii.) 

7.  But  some  will  say  :  I  have  but  little  confidence  in 
God,  because  I  am  a  sinner.    I  have  been  too  ungrateful 
to  him,  and  therefore  I  see  that  I  do  not  deserve  to  be 
heard.     But  St.  Thomas  tells  us,  that  the  efficacy  of  our 
prayers  in  obtaining  graces  from  God,  does  not  depend 
on  our  merits,  but  on  the  divine  mercy.     "  0  ratio  in 
impetrando  non  innititur  nostris  mentis,  sed  soli  divinao 
misericordieo"  (2,  2,  qu.  178,  a.  2,  ad.  1.)     As  often  as 
we  ask  with  confidence  favours  which  are  conducive  to 
our  eternal  salvation,  God  hears  our  prayer.     I  have 
said,  "  favours  conducive  to  our  salvation  ;"  for,  if  what 
we  seek  be  injurious  to  the  soul,  God  does  not,  and 
cannot  hear  us.     For  example  :  if  a  person  asked  help 
from  God  to  be  revenged  of  an  enemy,  or  to  accomplish 
what  would  be  offensive  to  God,  the  Lord  will  not  hear 
his  prayers  ;  because,  says  St.  Chrysostom,  such  a  person 
offends  God  in  the  very  act  of  prayer  ;  he  does  not  pray, 
but,   in  a  certain  manner  mocks  God.     "  Qui  orat  et 
peccat,    non   rogat   Deum,    sed   eludit."  (Horn,   xi.,   in 
Matt,  vi.) 


102  SERMON   XXVI. 


8.  Moreover,  if  you  wish  to  receive  from  God  the  aid 
which  you  ask,  you  must  remove  every  obstacle  which 
may  render  you  unworthy  of  being  heard.    For  example : 
if  you  ask  of  God  strength  to  preserve  you  from  relaps 
ing  into  a  certain  sin,  but  will  not  avoid  the  occasions  of 
the  sin,  nor  keep  at  a  distance  from  the  house,  from  the 
object,  or  the  bad  company,  which  led  to  your  fall,  God 
will  not  hear  your  prayer.     And  why  ?     Because  "  thou 
hast  set  a  cloud  before  thee,  that  prayer  may  not  pass 
through/'  (Thrcn.  iii.  44.)     Should  you  relapse,  do  not 
complain  of  God,  nor  say  :  I  have  besought  the  Lord  to 
preserve  me  from  falling  into  sin,  but  he  has  not  heard 
me.     Do  you  not  see  that,  by  not  taking  away  the  occa 
sions  of  sin,  you  have  interposed  a  thick  cloud,  which 
has  prevented  your  prayers  from  passing  to  the  throne 
of  divine  mercy. 

9.  It  is  also  necessary  to  remark  that  the  promise  of 
Jesus  Christ  to  hear  those  who  pray  to  him  does  not 
extend  to  all  the  temporal  favours  which  we  ask — such 
as  a  plentiful  harvest,  a  victory  in  a  law-suit,  or  a  deli 
verance   from   sickness,    or   from   certain    persecutions. 
These  favours  God  grants  to  those  who  pray  for  them  ; 
but  only  when  they  are  conducive  to  their  spiritual  wel 
fare.     Otherwise  he  refuses  them  ;  and  he  refuses  them 
because  he  loves  us,  and  because  he  knows  that  they 
would  be  injurious  to  our  souls.     "  A  physician,"  says 
St.  Augustine,  "  knows  better  than  his  patient  what  is 
useful  for  him"  (torn.  3,  cap.  ccxii).     The  saint  adds 
that  God  refuses  to  some,   through   mercy,   what    he 
grants  to  others  as  a  chastisement.     "  Deus  negat  pro- 
pitius,  quac  concedit  iratus."     Hence  St.  John  Damas 
cene  says  that  sometimes,  when  we  do  not  obtain  the 
graces    which   we   ask,   we   receive,   by   not   receiving 
them  ;  because  it  is  better  for  us  not  to  receive  than  to 
receive  them.     "  Etiam  si  non  accipias,  non  accipendo 
accepisti,  interdum  enim  non  accipere  quam  accipendo 
satius  est."  (ParaL,  lib.  3,  cap.  xv.)    We  often  ask  poison 
which  would  cause  our  death.     How  many  are  there 
who,    had  they  died  in  the  sickness  or  poverty  with 
which  they  had  been  afflicted,  should  be  saved  ?     But 
because  they  recovered  their  health,   or  because  they 
were  raised  to  wealth  and  honours,  they  became  proud 


CONDITIONS    OF    PRAYER.  193 

and  forgot  God,  and  thus  have  heen  damned.  Hence 
St.  Chrysostom  exhorts  us  to  ask  in  our  prayers  what 
he  knows  to  be  expedient  for  us.  "  Orantes  in  ejus 
potestate  ponamus,  ut  nos  illud  petentes  exaudiat,  quod 
ipse  nobis  expendire  cognoscit."  (Horn.  xv.  in  Matt.) 
We  should,  then,  always  ask  from  God  temporal 
favours  on  the  condition  that  they  will  be  useful  to  the 
soul. 

10.  But  spiritual  favours,  such  as  the  pardon  of  our 
sins,  perseverance  in  virtue,  the  gift  of  divine  love,  and 
resignation  to  the   divine   will,   ought   to   be  asked  of 
God  absolutely,  and  with  a  firm  confidence  of  obtaining 
them.     "  If  you,  then,  being  evil,  know  how  to  give 
good  gifts  to  your  children,   how  much  more  will  your 
Father  from  Heaven  give  the  good  Spirit  to  them  that 
ask  him  ?"  (Luke  xi.  13.)     If  you,  says  Jesus  Christ, 
who   are  so  much  attached  to   earthly  goods,    cannot 
refuse   your   children    the   blessings   which    you   have 
received  from  God,  how  much  more  will  your  Heavenly 
Father  (who  is  in   himself  infinitely  good,    and   who 
desires  to  give  you  his  graces  more  ardently  than  you 
desire  to  receive  them)  give  the  good  spirit — that  is,  a 
sincere  contrition  for  their  sins,  the  gift  of  divine  love, 
and  resignation  to  the  will  of  God — to  those  who  ask 
them  ?     "  Quando   Deus   negabit,"   says   St.   Bernard, 
"  potentibus  qui  etiam  non  potentes   hortatur  ut   pe- 
tant?"    (Ser.  ii.   de  S.  Andr.)     How  can  God  refuse 
graces  conducive  to  salvation  to  those  who  seek  them, 
when  he  exhorts  even  those  who  do  not  pray  to  ask 
them? 

11.  Nor  does  God  inquire  whether  the  person  who 
prays  to  him  is  a  just  man  or  a  sinner;  for  he  has 
declared  that  "  every  one  that  asketh,  receiveth."  (Luke 
xi.  10.)  "  Every  one,"  says  the  author  of  the  Imperfect 
Work,  "  whether  he  be  a  just  man  or  a  sinner."  (Horn, 
xviii.)  And,  to  encourage  us  to  pray  and  to  ask  with 
confidence  for  spiritual  favours,  he  has  said :  "  Amen, 
amen,  I  say  to  you  :  If  you  ask  the  Father  anything  in 
my  name,  he  will  give  it  you."  (John  xvi.  23.)  As  if 
he  said :  Sinners,  though  you  do  not  deserve  to  receive 
the  divine  graces,  I  have  merited  them  for  you  from 
my  Father :  ask,  then,  in  my  name — that  is,  through 

N 


194  SERMON    XXVI. 

my  merits — and  I  promise  that  you  shall  obtain  whatso 
ever  you  demand. 

Third  Point. — "We  must  pray  with  perseverance. 

12.  It  is,  above  all,  necessary  to  persevere  in  prayer 
till  death,  and  never  to  cease  to  pray.     This  is  what  is 
inculcated  by  the  following   passages  of  Scripture  :— 
"  "VVe  ought  always  to  pray."  (Luke  xviii.  1.)     "  Watch 
ye,  therefore,  praying  at  all  times  "  (xxi.  36).     "  Pray 
without  ceasing."  ( L  Thess.  v.  17.)     Hence  the  Holy 
Ghost  says  :  "  Let  nothing  hinder  thee   from  praying 
always."   (Eccl.  xviii.  22.)     These  words  imply,  not  only 
that  we  should  pray  always,  but  also  that  we  should 
endeavour  to  remove  every  occasion  which  may  prevent 
us  from  praying ;  for,  if  we  cease  to  pray,  we  shall  be 
deprived  of  the  divine  aid,  and  shall  be  overcome  by 
temptations.     Perseverance  in  grace  is  a  gratuitous  gift, 
which,  as  the  Council  of  Trent  has  declared,  we  cannot 
merit  (Ses.  6,  cap.  xiii.)  ;  but  St.  Augustine  says,  that 
we  may  obtain  it  by  prayer.     "  Hoc  donum  Dei  suppli- 
citer  emereri,  potest  id  est  supplicando  impetrari."  (de 
Dono.  Per.,  cap.  vi.)  Hence  Cardinal  Eellarmine  teaches 
that  "  we  must  ask  it  daily,  in  order  to  obtain  it  every 
day."     If  we  neglect  to  a^k  it  on  any  day,  we  may  fall 
into  sin  on  that  day. 

13.  If,  then,  we  wish  to  persevere  and  to  be  saved — 
for  no  one  can  be  saved  without  perseverance — we  must 
pray   continually.      Our  perseverance  depends,'  not  on 
one  grace,  but  on  a  thousand  helps  which  we  hope  to 
obtain  from  God  during  our  whole  lives,  that  we  may 
be  preserved  in  his  grace.     Now,  to  this  chain  of  graces 
a  chain  of  prayers  on  our  part  must  correspond ;  with 
out  these  prayers,  God  ordinarily  does  not  grant  his 
graces.     If  we  neglect  to  pray,  and  thus  break  the  chain 
of  prayers,  the  chain  of  graces  shall  also  be  broken,  and 
we  shall  lose  the  grace  of  perseverance.     If,  says  Jesus 
Christ  to  his  disciples,  one  of  you  go  during  the  night 
to  a  friend,  and  say  to  him  :  Lend  me  three  loaves ;  an 
acquaintance  has   come  to  my  house,  and  I  have  no 
refreshment  for  him.     The  friend  will  answer  :  I  am  in 
bed  ;  the  door  is  locked  ;  I  cannot  get  up.     But,  if  the 
other  continue  to  knock  at  the  door,  and  will  not  depart, 


CONDITIONS    OF    PRAYER.  195 

the  friend  will  rise,  and  give  him  as  many  loaves  as  he 
wishes,  not  through  friendship,  but  to  be  freed  from  his 
importunity.  "  Although  he  will  not  rise  and  give  him 
because  he  is  his  friend  ;  yet,  because  of  his  importunity, 
he  will  rise,  and  give  him  as  many  as  he  needeth*" 
(Luke  xi.  8.)  Now,  if  a  man  will  give  his  loaves  to  a 
friend  because  of  his  importunity,  "  how  much  more," 
says  St.  Augustine,  te  will  God  give,  who  exhorts  us  to 
ask,  and  is  displeased  if  we  do  not  ask  ?"  How  much 
more  will  the  Lord  bestow  on  us  his  graces,  if  we  per 
severe  in  praying  for  them,  when  he  exhorts  us  to  ask 
them,  and  is  offended  if  we  do  not  ask  them  ? 

14.  Men  feel  annoyed  at  being  frequently  and  impor 
tunately  asked  for  a  favour.     But  God  exhorts  us  to  pray 
frequently;  and,  instead  of  being  dissatisfied,  he  is  pleased 
with  those  who  repeatedly  ask  his  graces.     Cornelius  a 
Lapide  says,  that  "  God  wishes  us  to  persevere  in  prayer, 
even  to  importunity."   (in  Luc.,  cap.  xi.)     St.  Jerome 
says:  " This  importunity  with  the  Lord  is  seasonable." 
(in  Luc.  xi.)     That  God  is  pleased  with  frequent  and 
persevering  prayer,  may  be  inferred  from  the  words  of 
Jesus  Christ :  "  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given  you ;  seek, 
and  ^  you  shall  find ;  knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened  to 
you."  (Luke  xi.  9.)     It  was  not  enough  to  have  said 
asky  but  he  added,  seek,  knock;  in  order  to  show,  that, 
during  our  whole  Jives,  we  should  be  as  importunate  in 
supplicating  the  divine  graces  as  beggars  are  in  asking 
alms.     Though  they  should  be  refused,  they  do  not  cease 
to  cry  out,  or  to  knock  at  the   door;  they  persist  in 
asking  relief  till  they  obtain  it. 

15.  If,  then,  we  wish  to  obtain  from  God  the  gift  of 
perseverance,  we  must  ask  it  from  him  continually  and 
with  importunity.     We  must  ask  it  when  we  rise  in  the 
morning,  in  our  meditations,  in  hearing  Mass,  in  our 
visits  to  the  blessed  sacrament,  in  going  to  bed  at  night, 
and  particularly  when  we  are  tempted  by  the  devil  to 
commit  any  sin.  Thus,  we  must  always  have  our  mouths 
open  praying  to  God,  and  saying:  Lord,  assist  me;  give 
me  light ;  give  me  strength  ;  keep  thy  hand  upon  me, 
and  do  not  abandon  me.     We  must  do  violence  to  the 
Lord.     "  Such  violence,"  says  Tertullian,  "  is  agreeable 
to   God."     The   violence   which   we   offer  to  God  by 


196  SERMON    XXVII. 


repeated  prayers  does  not  offend  him  :  on  the  contrary, 
it  is  pleasing  and  acceptable  in  his  sight.  "  Prayer," 
according  to  St.  John  Climacus,  "piously  offers  violence 
to  God."  Our  supplications  compel  him,  hut  in  a  man 
ner  grateful  to  him.  He  takes  great  complacency  in 
seeing  his  mother  honoured,  and  therefore  wishes,  as  St. 
Bernard  says,  that  all  the  graces  we  receive  should  pass 
through  her  hands.  Hence  the  holy  doctor  exhorts  us 
"  to  seek  grace,  and  to  seek  it  through  Mary,  because 
she  is  a  mother,  and  her  prayer  cannot  be  fruitless."  (de 
Aqurcd.)  When  we  ask  her  to  obtain  any  grace  for  us, 
she  graciously  hears  our  petitions  and  prays  for  us :  and 
the  prayers  of  Mary  are  never  rejected. 


SERMON  XXVII.— SIXTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST,  OR  THE  SUNDAY  WITHIN 
THE  OCTAVE  OF  THE  ASCENSION. 

On  human  respect. 

"  Whosoever  killeth  you,  will  think  that  he  cloeth  a  service  to  God." 
JOHN  xvi.  2. 

IN  exhorting  his  disciples  to  be  faithful  to  him  under  the 
persecution  which  they  were  to  endure,  the  Saviour  said : 
*'  Yea,  the  hour  cometh,  that  whosoever  killeth  you,  will 
think  that  he  doeth  a  service  to  God."  Thus,  the  enemies 
of  the  faith  believed  that  in  putting  Christians  to  death 
they  did  a  service  to  God.  It  is  thus  that  many  Chris 
tians  of  the  present  day  act.  They  kill  their  own  souls 
by  losing  the  grace  of  God  through  human  respect  and 
to  please  worldly  friends.  Oh !  how  many  souls  has 
human  respect — that  great  enemy  of  our  salvation — 
sent  to  hell !  I  shall  speak  on  this  subject  to-day,  that, 
if  you  wish  to  serve  God  and  save  your  souls,  you  may 
guard  as  much  as  possible  against  human  respect.  In 
the  first  point,  I  will  show  the  importance  of  not  being 
influenced  by  human  respect ;  and  in  the  second,  I  will 
point  out  the  means  by  which  this  vice  may  be  over 
come. 

First  Point — On  the  importance  of  not  being  in 
fluenced  by  human  respect. 


HUMAN    RESPECT.  197 


1.  "Woe  to  the  world  because  of  scandals."  (Matt, 
xviii.  7.)     Jesus  Christ  has  said,  that  through  the  scan 
dals  of  the  wicked,  many  souls  fall  into  hell.     But  how 
is  it  possible  to  live  in  the  midst  of  the  world,  and  not 
to  take  scandal  ?     This  is  impossible.     To  avoid  taking 
scandal,   St.  Paul  says,    we   should   leave   this  world. 
"  Otherwise  you   must  needs   go   out  of  this   world." 
( I  Cor.  v.  10.)     But  it  is  in  our  power  to  avoid  fami 
liarity   with   scandalous   sinners.      Hence   the  Apostle 
adds  :  "  But  now  I  have  written  to  you  not  to  keep 
company  ....  with  such  an  one,  not  as  much  as  to  eat." 
(Ibid.  v.  11.)    We  should  beware  of  contracting  intimacy 
with  such  sinners ;  for,  should  we  be  united  with  them 
in  the  bonds  of  friendship,  we  shall  feel  an  unwillingness 
to  oppose  their  bad  practices  and  bad  counsels.     Thus, 
through  human  respect  and  the  fear  of  contradicting 
them,  we  will  imitate  their  example,  and  lose  the  friend 
ship  of  God. 

2.  Such  lovers  of  the  world  not  only  glory  in  their 
own  iniquities  ("They  rejoice  in  most  wicked  things." 
Prov.  ii.  14)  ;  but,  what  is  worse,  they  wish  to  have 
companions,  and  ridicule  all  who  endeavour  to  live  like 
true  Christians  and  to  avoid  the  dangers  of  offending 
God.     This  is  a  sin  which  is  very  displeasing  to  God, 
and  which  he  forbids  in  a  particular  manner.     "  Despise 
not  a  man  that  turneth  away  from  sin,  nor  reproach 
him   therewith."    (Eccl.  viii.   6.)      Despise   not   those 
who   keep   at   a   distance    from   sin,  and  seek  not   to 
draw  them  to  evil  by  your  reproaches  and  irregulari 
ties.     The  Lord  declares,  that,  for  those  who    throw 
ridicule  on  the  virtuous,  chastisements  are  prepared  in 
this  and  in  the  next  life.     "  Judgments  are  prepared  for 
scorners,  and  striking  hammers  for  the  bodies  of  fools." 
(Prov.  xix.  29.)     They  mock  the  servants  of  God,  and 
he  shall  mock  them  for  all  eternity.     "But  the  Lord 
shall  laugh  them  to  scorn.     And  they  shall  fall  after 
this  without  honour,  and  be  a  reproach  among  the  dead 
for  ever."  (Wis.  iv.  18.)     They  endeavour  to  make  the 
saints  contemptible  in  the  eyes  of  the  world,  and  God 
shall  make  them  die  without  honour,   and  shall  send 
them   to   hell   to   suffer   eternal   ignominy  among   the 
damned. 


198  SERMON    XXVII. 


3.  Not  only  to  offend  God,  but  also  to  endeavour  to 
make  others  offend  him,  is  truly  an  enormous  excess  of 
wickedness.     This  execrable  intention  arises  from  a  con 
viction  that  there  are  many  weak  and  pusillanimous 
souls,  who,  to  escape  derision  and  contempt,  abandon 
the  practice  of  virtue,  and  give  themselves  up  to  a  life 
of  sin.     After  his  conversion  to  God,  St.  Augustine  wept 
for  having  associated  with  those  ministers  of  Lucifer, 
and  confessed,  that  he  felt  ashamed  not  to  be  as  wicked 
and  as  shameless  as  they  were.     "  Pudebat  me/'  says 
the  saint,  "esse  pudentem."     How  many,  to  avoid  the 
scoffs  of  wicked  friends,  have  been  induced  to  imitate 
their  wickedness  !     "  Behold  the   saint/'  these  impious 
scoffers  will  say ;  "  get  me  a  piece  of  his  garment ;  I  will 
preserve  it  as  a  relic.      Why  does  he  not  become  a 
monk  ?"     How  many  also  when  they  receive  an  insult, 
resolve  to  take  revenge,  not  so  much  through  passion, 
as  to  escape  the  reputation  of  being  cowards  !     How 
many  are  there  who,  after  having  inadvertently  given 
expression  to  a  scandalous  maxim,  neglect  to  retract  it 
(as  they  are  bound  to  do),  through  fear  of  losing  the 
esteem  of  others !     How  many,  because  they  are  afraid 
of  forfeiting  the  favour  of  a  friend,  sell  their  souls  to  the 
devil !     They  imitate  the  conduct  of  Pilate,  who,  through 
the  apprehension  of  losing  the  friendship  of  Caesar,  con 
demned  Jesus  Christ  to  death. 

4.  Be  attentive.      Brethren,  if  we  wish  to  save  our 
souls,  we  must  overcome  human  respect,  and  bear  the 
little  confusion  which  may  arise  from  the  scoffs  of  the 
enemies  of  the  cross  of  Jesus  Christ.     "For  there  is  a 
shame  that  bringeth   sin,  and   there  is  a  shame  that 
bringeth  glory  and  grace."  (Eccl.  iv.  25.)     If  we  do  not 
suffer  this  confusion  with  patience,  it  will  lead  us  into 
the  pit  of  si  a  ;  but  if  we  submit  to  it  for  God's  sake,  it 
will  obtain  for  us  the  divine  grace  here,  and  great  glory 
hereafter.      "As,"  says   St.   Gregory,   "  bashfulness  is 
laudable  in  evil,  so  it  is  reprehensible  in  good."  (Horn. 
x.  in  Ezech.) 

5.  But  some  of  you  will  say :  I  attend  to  my  own 
affairs  ;  I  wish  to  save  my  soul ;  why  then  should  I  be 
persecuted  ?     But  there  is  no  remedy ;  it  is  impossible 
to  serve  God,  and  not   be  persecuted.     "  The  wicked 


HUMAN    HESPECT.  199 


loathe  them  that  are  in  the  right  way."  (Prov.  xxix.  27.) 
Sinners  cannot  bear  the  sight  of  the  man  who  lives  ac 
cording  to  the  Gospel,  because  his  life  is  a  continual 
censure  on  their  disorderly  conduct;  and  therefore  they 
say:  "Let  us  lie  in  wait  for  the  just;  because  he  is 
not  for  our  turn,  and  he  is  contrary  to  our  doings,  and 
upbraideth  us  with  transgressions  of  the  law/'  (Wis.  ii. 
12.)  The  proud  man,  who  seeks  revenge  for  every  insult 
which  he  receives,  would  wish  that  all  should  avenge 
the  offences  that  may  be  offered  to  him.  The  avaricious, 
who  grow  rich  by  injustice,  wish  that  all  should  imitate 
their  fraudulent  practices.  The  drunkard  wishes  to  see 
others  indulge  like  himself  in  intoxication.  The  im 
moral,  who  boast  of  their  impurities,  and  can  scarcely 
utter  a  word  which  does  not  savour  of  obscenity,  desire 
that  all  should  act  and  speak  as  they  do ;  and  those 
who  do  not  imitate  their  conduct,  they  regard  as  mean, 
clownish,  and  intractable — as  men  without  honour  and 
education.  "  They  are  of  the  world,  therefore  of  the 
world  they  speak/'  (1  John  iv.  5.)  Worldlings  can 
speak  no  other  language  than  that  of  the  world.  Oh  ! 
how  great  is  their  poverty  and  blindness !  She  has 
blinded  them,  and  therefore  they  speak  so  profanely. 
"  These  things  they  thought,  and  were  deceived ;  for 
their  own  malice  blinded  them."  (Wis.  ii.  21.) 

6.  But  I  say  again,  that  there  is  no  remedy.  All,  as 
St.  Paul  says,  who  wish  to  live  in  union  with  Jesus  Christ 
must  be  persecuted  by  the  world.  "And  all  that  will 
live  godly  in  Christ,  shall  suffer  persecution."  (2  Tim.  iii. 
12.)  All  the  saints  have  been  persecuted.  You  say:  I 
do  not  injure  any  one ;  why  then  am  I  not  left  in 
peace  ?  What  evil  have  the  saints,  and  particularly  the 
martyrs,  done  ?  They  were  full  of  charity  ;  they  loved 
all,  and  laboured  to  do  good  to  all ;  and  how  have  they 
been  treated  by  the  world  ?  They  have  been  flayed 
alive ;  they  have  been  tortured  with  red-hot  plates  of 
iron;  and  have  been  put  to  death  in  the  most  cruel 
manner.  And  whom  has  Jesus  Christ — the  saint  of  saints 
— injured  ?  He  consoled  all ;  he  healed  all.  "  Virtue 
went  out  from  him,  and  healed  all."  (Luke  vi.  19.) 
And  how  has  the  world  treated  him  ?  It  has  persecuted 
him,  so  as  to  make  him  die  through  pain  on  the  infamous 
gibbet  of  the  cross. 


200 


SERMON    XXVII. 


^  7.  This  happens  because  the  maxims  of  the  world  are 
diametrically  opposed  to  the  maxims  of  Jesus  Christ. 
What  the  world  esteems,  Jesus  Christ  regards  as  folly. 
"For  the  wisdom  of  this  world  is  foolishness  with  God." 
(1  Cor.  iii.  19.)     And  what  is  foolish  in  the  eyes  of  the 
world— that  is,  crosses,  sickness,  contempt,  and  ignomi 
nies—Jesus  Christ  holds  in  great  estimation.     "  For  the 
word^of  the  cross,  to  them  indeed  that  perish,  is  foolish 
ness."  (1  Cor.  i.  IS.)     How,  says  St.  Cyprian,  can  a  man 
think  himself  to  be  a  Christian,  when  he  is  afraid  to  be 
a  Christian  ?      "  Christianum  se  putat  si  Christianurn 
esse  veretur  p"  (Ser.  v.  de  Lapsis.)     If  we  are  Christians, 
let  us  show  that  we  are  Christians  in  name  and  in  truth; 
for,  if  we  are  ashamed  of  Jesus  Christ,  he  will  be  ashamed 
of  us,  and  cannot  give  us  a  place  on  his  right  hand  on 
the  last  day.     "  For  he  that  shall  be  ashamed  of  me  and 
my  words,  of  him  the  Son  of  Man  shall  be  ashamed 
when  he  shall  come  in  his  majesty."  (Luke  ix.  2G.)     On 
the  day  of  judgment  he   shall  say:    You   have   been 
ashamed  of  me  on  earth  :  I  am  now  ashamed  to  see  you 
with  me  in  Paradise.     Begone,  accursed  souls;  go  into 
hell  to  meet  your  companions,  who  have  been  ashamed 
of  me.     But  mark  the  words  "  he  that  shall  be  ashamed 
of  me  and  of  my  words."     St.  Augustine  says,  that  some 
are  ashamed  to  deny  Jesus  Christ,  but  do  not  blush  to 
deny  the  maxims  of  Jesus  Christ.     "  Erubescunt  negare 
Christum,    et   non   erubescunt   negare   verba   Christi." 
(Serm.  xlviii.)     But  you  may  tell  me,  that,  if  you  say 
you  cannot  do  such  an  act,  because  it  is  contrary  to  the 
Gospel,  your  friends  will  turn  you  into  ridicule,  and 
will  call  you  a  hypocrite.     Then,  says  St.  John  Chry- 
sostom,  you  will  not  suffer  to  be  treated  with  derision 
by  a  companion,  and  you  are  content  to  be  hated  by 
God !      'JX"on  vis  a  conserve  derideri,  sed  odio  haberi  a 
Deo  tuo  ?"  (Horn.  xci.  in  Act.  xix.) 

8.  The  Apostle,  who  gloried  in  being  a  follower  of 
Christ,  said  :  "  The  world  is  crucified  to  me,  and  I  to 
the  world."  (Gal.  vi.  14.)  As  I  am  a  person  crucified  to 
the  world— an  object  of  its  scoffs  and  injustice,  so  the 
world  is  to  me  an  object  of  contempt  and  abomination. 
It  is  necessary  to  be  convinced,  that  if  we  do  not  trample 
on  the  world,  the  world  will  trample  on  our  souls.  But 


HUMAN    RESPECT.  201 


what  is  the  world  and  all  its  goods  ?  "  All  that  is  in 
the  world  is  the  concupiscence  of  the  flesh,  and  the  con 
cupiscence  of  the  eyes,  and  the  pride  of  life."  (1  John 
ii.  16.)  To  what  are  all  the  goods  of  this  earth  reduced? 
To  riches,  which  are  hut  dung ;  to  honours,  which  are 
only  smoke ;  and  to  carnal  pleasures.  But  what  shall 
all  these  profit  us,  if  we  lose  our  souls  ?  "  "What  doth 
it  profit  a  man,  if  he  gain  the  whole  world,  and  suffer 
the  loss  of  his  soul  ?"  (Matt.  xvi.  26.) 

9.  He  that  loves  God  and  wishes  to  save  his  soul 
must  despise  the  world  and  all  human  respect ;  and  to 
do  this,  everyone  must  offer  violence  to  himself.     St. 
Mary  Magdalene  had  to  do  great  violence  to  herself,  in 
order  to  overcome  human  respect  and  the  murmurings 
and  scoffs  of  the  world,   when,  in  the  presence  of  so 
many  persons,  she  cast  herself  at  the   feet   of  Jesus 
Christ,  to  wash  them  with  her  tears,  and  dry  them  with 
her  hair.     But  she  thus  became  a  saint,  and  merited 
from  Jesus  Christ  pardon  of  her  sins,  and  praise  for  her 
great  love.     "  Many  sins  are  forgiven  her  because  she 
hath  loved  much."  (Luke  vii.  47.)     One  day,   as  St. 
Francis  Borgia  carried  to  certain  prisoners  a  vessel  of 
broth  under  his  cloak,  he  met  his  son  mounted  on  a  fine 
horse,  and  accompanied  by  certain  noblemen.     The  saint 
felt  ashamed  to  show  what  he  carried  under  his  cloak. 
But  what  did  he  do  in  order  to  conquer  human  respect  ? 
He  took  the  vessel  of  broth,  placed  it  on  his  head,  and 
thus  showed  his  contempt  for  the  world.     Jesus  Christ, 
our  Head  and  Master,  when  nailed  to  the  cross,  was 
mocked  by  the  soldiers.     "  If  thou  be  the  Son  of  God, 
come  down  from  the  cross."  (Matt,  xxvii.  40.)     He  was 
mocked  by  the  priests,  saying  :  "  He  saved  others;  him 
self  he  cannot  save."  (Ibid.,  v.  42.)     But  he  remained 
firm  on  the  cross ;  he  cheerfully  died  upon  it,  and  thus 
conquered  the  world. 

10.  "  I  give  thanks  to  God,"  says  St.  Jerome,  "  that  I 
am  worthy  to  be  hated  by  the  world."  (Epis.  ad  Asellam.) 
The  saint  returns  thanks  to  God  for  having  made  him 
worthy  of  the  hatred  of  the  world.      Jesus  Christ  pro 
nounced  his  disciples  blessed  when  they  should  be  hated 
by  men.     "  Blessed  shall  you  be  when  men  shall  hate 
you."  (Luke  vi.  22.)     Christians,  let  us  rejoice  ;  for,  if 


202 


SERMON    XXVII. 


worldlings  curse  and  upbraid  us,  God  at  the  same  time 
praises  and  blesses  us.  "They  will  curse,  and  thou 
wilt  bless."  (Ps.  cviii.  28.)  Is  it  not  enough  for  us  to  be 
praised  by  God,  to  be  praised  by  the  queen  of  heaven, 
by  all  the  angels,  by  all  the  saints,  and  by  all  just  men  ? 
Let  worldlings  say  what  they  wish  ;  but  let  us  continue 
to  please  God,  who  will  give  us,  in  the  next  life,  a 
reward  proportioned  to  the  violence  we  shall  have  done 
to  ourselves  in  despising  the  contradictions  of  men. 
Each  of  you  should  figure  to  himself,  that  there  is  no 
one  in  the  world  but  himself  and  God.  When  the 
wicked  treat  us  with  contempt,  let  us  recommend  to 
God  these  blind  and  miserable  men,  who  run  in  the 
road  to  perdition  ;  and  let  us  thank  the  Lord  for  giving 
to  us  the  light  which  he  refuses  to  them.  Let  us  con 
tinue  in  our  own  way :  to  obtain  all,  it  is  necessary  to 
conquer  all. 

Second  Point.     On  the  means  of  overcoming  human 
respect. 

11.  To  overcome  human  respect,  it  is  necessary  to  fix 
in  our  hearts  the  holy  resolution  of  preferring  the  grace 
of  God  to  all  the  goods  and  favours  of  this  world,  and 
to  say  with  St.  Paul:  "Neither  death,  nor  life,  nor 
angels,  nor  principalities,  nor  powers, .  . .  .nor  any  other 
creature,  shall  be  able  to  separate  us  from  the  love  of 
God."  (Rom.  viii.  38,  39.)     Jesus  Christ  exhorts  us  not 
to  be  afraid  of  those  who  can  take  away  the  life  of  the 
body ;  but  to  fear  him  only  who  can  condemn  the  soul 
and  body  to  hell.     "  And  fear  you  not  them  that  kill  the 
body ;  but  rather  fear  him  that  can  destroy  both  soul 
and  body  into  hell."  (Matt,  x.  28.)     We  wish  either  to 
follow  God  or  the  world  ;  if  we  wish  to  follow  God  we 
must  give  up  the  world.      "  now  long  do   you   halt 
between  two  sides  ?"  said  Elias  to  the  people.     "  If  the 
Lord  be  God,  follow  him."  (3  Kings  xviii.  21.)     You 
cannot  serve  God  and  the  world.     He  that  seeks  to 
please  men  cannot  please  God.     "  If,"  says  the  Apostle, 
"I  yet  pleased  men,  I  should  not  be  the  servant  of 
Christ/'  (Gal.  i.  10.) 

12.  The  true  servants  of  God  rejoice  to  see  them 
selves  despised  and  maltreated  for  the  sake  of  Jesus 


HUMAN    RESPECT.  203 


Christ.  The  holy  apostles  "  went  from  the  presence  of 
the  council,  rejoicing  that  they  were  accounted  worthy 
to  suffer  reproach  for  the  name  of  Jesus."  (Acts  v.  41.) 
Moses  could  have  prevented  the  anger  of  Pharaoh  by  not 
contradicting  the  current  report  that  he  was  the  son  of 
Pharaoh's  daughter.  But  he  denied  that  he  was  her 
son,  preferring,  as  St.  Paul  says,  the  opprobrium  of 
Christ  to  all  the  riches  of  the  world.  *'  Choosing  rather 
to  be  afflicted  with  the  people  of  God;.  ..  .esteeming 
the  reproach  of  Christ  greater  riches  than  the  treasure 
of  the  Egyptians."  (Heb.  xi.  25,  26.) 

13.  Wicked  friends  come  to  you  and  say  :  What  ex 
travagances  are  those  in  which  you  indulge  ?  Why  do 
you  not  act  like  others  ?  Say  to  them  in  answer  :  My 
conduct  is  not  opposed  to  that  of  all  men  ;  there  are 
others  who  lead  a  holy  life.  They  are  indeed  few  ;  but 
I  will  follow  their  example;  for  the  Gospel  says:  "Many 
are  called,  but  few  are  chosen."  (Matt.  xx.  16.)  "If," 
says  St.  John  Climacus,  "  you  wish  to  be  saved  with  the 
few,  live  like  the  few."  But,  they  will  add,  do  you  not 
see  that  all  murmur  against  you,  and  condemn  your 
manner  of  living  ?  Let  your  answer  be  :  It  is  enough 
for  me  that  God  does  not  censure  my  conduct.  Is  it 
not  better  to  obey  God  than  to  obey  men  ?  Such  was 
the  answer  of  St.  Peter  and  St.  John  to  the  Jewish 
priests  :  "  If  it  be  just  in  the  sight  of  God  to  hear  you 
rather  than  God,  judge  ye."  (Acts  iv.  19.)  If  they  ask 
you  how  can  you  bear  an  insult  ?  or  how,  after  submit 
ting  to  it,  can  you  appear  among  your  equals  ?  answer 
them  by  saying  that  you  are  a  Christian,  and  that  it  is 
enough  for  you  to  appear  well  in  the  eyes  of  God.  Such 
should  be  your  answer  to  all  those  satellites  of  Satan : 
you  must  despise  all  their  maxims  and  reproaches.  And 
when  it  is  necessary  to  reprove  those  who  make  little  of 
God's  law,  you  must  take  courage  and  correct  them 
publicly.  "  Them  that  sin,  reprove  before  all."  (1  Tim. 
v.  20.)  And  when  there  is  question  of  the  divine 
honour,  we  should  not  be  frightened  by  the  dignity  of 
the  man  who  offends  God ;  let  us  say  to  him  openly : 
This  is  sinful ;  it  cannot  be  done.  Let  us  imitate  the 
Baptist,  who  reproved  King  Herod  for  living  with  his 
brother's  wife,  and  said  to  him:  "It  is  not  lawful  for 


204 


SERMON    XXV II I. 


thee  to  have  her."  (Matt.  xiv.  4.)  Men  indeed  shall 
regard  us  as  fools,  and  turn  us  into  derision  ;  but,  on  the 
day  of  judgment  they  shall  acknowledge  that  they  have 
been  foolish,  and  we  shall  have  the  glory  of  being  num 
bered  among  the  saints.  They  shall  say :  "  These  are 
they  whom  we  had  sometime  in  derision.  ..  .We  fools 
esteemed  their  life  madness,  and  their  end  without 
honour.  Behold  how  they  are  numbered  among  the 
children  of  God,  and  their  lot  is  among  the  saints." 
(Wis.  v.  3,  4,  5.) 


SERMON  XXVIII.— PENTECOST  SUNDAY. 

On  conformity  to  the  will  of  God. 

"As  the  Father  hath  given  me  commandment,  so  do  I." — JOHN 

xiv.  31. 

JESUS  CHRIST  was  given  to  us,  by  God,  as  a  saviour  and 
as  a  master.  Hence  he  came  on  earth  principally  to 
teach  us,  not  only  by  his  words  but  also  by  his  own  ex 
ample,  how  we  are  to  love  God — our  supreme  good  : 
hence,  as  we  read  in  this  day's  Gospel,  he  said  to  his 
disciples  :  "  That  the  world  may  know  that  I  love  the 
Father,  and  as  the  Father  hath  given  me  command 
ment,  so  do  I."  To  show  the  world  the  love  I  bear  to 
the  Father,  I  will  execute  all  his  commands.  In  an 
other  place  he  said  :  "  I  came  down  from  heaven  not  to 
do  my  own  will,  but  the  will  of  him  that  sent  me." 
(John  vi.  38.)  Devout  souls,  if  you  love  God  and  desire 
to  become  saints,  you  must  seek  his  will,  and  wish  what 
he  wishes.  St.  Paul  tells  us,  that  the  divine  love  is 
poured  into  our  souls  by  means  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 
"  The  charity  of  God  is  poured  into  our  hearts  by  the 
Holy  Ghost,  who  is  given  to  us."  (Horn.  v.  5.)  If,  then, 
we  wish  for  the  gift  of  divine  love,  we  must  constantly 
beseech  the  Holy  Ghost  to  make  us  know  and  do  the 
will  of  God.  Let  us  continually  implore  his  light  to 
know,  and  his  strength  to  fulfil  the  divine  will.  Many 
wish  to  love  God,  but  they,  at  the  same  time,  wish  to 
follow  their  own,  and  not  his  will.  Hence  I  shall  show 
to-day,  in  the  first  point,  that  uur  sanctification  consists 


CONFORMITY   TO    THE    WILL    OF    GOD.  205 

entirely  in  conformity  to  the  will  of  God  ;  and  in  the 
second,  I  shall  show  how,  and  in  what,  we  should  in 
practice  conform  ourselves  to  the  divine  will. 

First  Point     Our  sanctification  consists  entirely  in 
conformity  to  the  will  of  God. 

1.  It  is  certain  that  our  salvation  consists  in  loving 
God.     A  soul  that  does  not  love  God  is  not  living,  but 
dead.      "He   that   loveth   not,    abideth  in  death."   (1 
John  iii.  14.)     The  perfection  of  love  consists  in  con 
forming  our  will  to  the  will  of  God.     "  And  life  in  his 
good  will."  (Ps.  xxix.  6.)     "  Have  charity,  which  is  the 
bond  of  perfection."   (Col.  iii.    14.)     According  to  the 
Areopagite,  the  principal  effect  of  love  is  to  unite  the 
wills  of  lovers,  so  that  they  may  have  but  one  heart  and 
one  will.     Hence  all  our  works,  communions,  prayers, 
penances,  and  alms,  please  God  in  proportion  to  their 
conformity  to  the  divine  will ;  and  if  they  be  contrary 
to  the  will  of  God,  they  are  no  longer  acts  of  virtue,  but 
defects  deserving  chastisement. 

2.  Whilst  preaching  one  day,  Jesus  Christ  was  told 
that  his  mother  and  brethren  were  waiting  for  him  ;  in 
answer  he  said :  "  Whosoever  shall  do  the  will  of  my 
Father  that  is  in  heaven,  he  is  my  brother  and  sister 
and  mother."  (Matt.  xii.  50.)     By  these  words  he  gave 
us  to  understand  that  he  acknowledged  as  friends  and 
relatives  those  only  who  fulfil  the  will  of  his  Father. 

3.  The  saints  in  heaven  love  God  perfectly.    In  what, 
I  ask,  does  the  perfection  of  their  love  consist  ?     It  con 
sists  in  an  entire  conformity  to  the  divine  will.     Hence 
Jesus  Christ  has  taught  us  to  pray  for  grace  to  do  the 
will  of  God  on  earth,  as  the   saints   do  it  in  heaven. 
"  Thy  will  be  done  on  earth,  as  it  is  in  heaven."  (Matt. 
vi.  10.)     Hence  St.  Teresa  says,  that  "  they  who  practise 
prayer,  should  seek  in  all  things  to  conform  their  will 
to  the  will  of  God."     In  this,  she  adds,   consists  the 
highest  perfection.     He  that  practises  it  in  the  most 
perfect  manner,  shall  receive  from   God  the   greatest 
gifts,  and  shall  make  the  greatest  progress  in  interior 
life.     The  accomplishment  of  the  divine  will  has  been 
the  sole  end  of  the  saints  in  the  practice  of  all  virtues. 
Blessed  Henry  Suson  used  to  say  :  "I  would  rather  be 


206  SERMOX   XXVIII. 


the  vilest  man  on  earth  with  the  will  of  God,  than  be  a 
seraph  with  my  own  will." 

4.  A  perfect  act  of  conformity  is  sufficient  to  make  a 
person  a  saint.     Behold,  Jesus  Christ  appeared  to  St. 
Paul  while  he  was  persecuting  the  Church,  and  con 
verted  him.     What  did  the  saint  do  ?     He  did  nothing 
more  than  offer  to  God  his  will,  that  he  might  dispose 
of  it  as  he  pleased.     "  Lord,"  he   exclaimed,    "  what 
wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?''  (Acts  ix.  6.)     And  instantly 
the  Lord  declared  to  Ananias,  that  Saul  was  a  vessel  of 
election,  and  apostle  of  the  Gentiles.     "  This  man  is  a 
vessel  of  election  to  carry  my  name  before  the  Gentiles." 
(Acts  ix.  15.)     He  that  gives  his  will  to  God,  gives  him 
all  he  has.     He  that  mortifies  himself  by  fasts  and  peni 
tential  austerities,   or  that  gives  alms  to  the  poor  for 
God's  sake,  gives  to  God  a  part  of  himself  and  of  his 
goods  ;  but  he  that  gives  his  will  to  God,  gives  him  all, 
and  can  say :  Lord,  having  given  thee  my  will,  I  have 
nothing  more  to  give  thee — I  have  given  thee  all.     It 
is  our  heart — that  is,  our  will — that  God  asks  of  us. 
*'  My  son,  give  me  thy  heart."  (Prov.  xxiii.  26.)     Since, 
then,  says  the  holy  Abbot  Nilus,  our  will  is  so  accept 
able  to  God,  we  ought,  in  our  prayers,  to  ask  of  him 
the  grace,  not  that  we  may  do  what  he  will,  but  that  we 
may  do  all  that  he  wishes  us  to  do.     Every  one  knows 
this  truth,  that  our  sanctification  consists  in  doing  the 
will  of  God ;  but  there  is  some  difficulty  in  reducing  it 
to  practice.     Let  us,  then,   come  to  the  second  point, 
in  which  I  have  to  say  many  things  of  great  practical 
utility. 

Second  Point     How,  and  in  what,  we  ought  to  prac 
tise  conformity  to  the  will  of  God. 

5.  That  we  may  feel  a  facility  of  doing  on  all  occa 
sions  the  divine  will,  we  must  beforehand  offer  ourselves 
continually  to  embrace  in  peace  whatever  God  ordains 
or  wills.     Such  was  the  practice  of  holy  David.     "  My 
heart,"  he  used  to  say,  "  is  ready ;  0  God  !  my  heart 
is  ready."  (Ps.  cvii.  2.)     And  he  continually  besought 
the  Lord  to  teach  him  to  do  his  divine  will.     "  Teach 
me  to  do  thy  will."  (Ps.  cxlii.  1 0.)     He  thus  deserved 
to  be  called  a  man  according  to  God's  own  heart.     "  I 


CONFORMITY   TO    THE    WILL   OF    GOD.  207 

have  found  David,  the  son  of  Jesse,  a  man  according  to 
my  own  heart,  who  shall  do  all  my  wills."  (Acts  xiii. 
'2'2.)  And  why?  Because  the  holy  king  was  always 
ready  to  do  whatever  God  wished  him  to  do. 

6.  St.  Teresa  offered  herself  to  God  fifty  times  in  the 
day,  that  he  might  dispose  of  her  as  he  pleased,  and 
declared  her  readiness  to  emhrace  either  prosperity  or 
adversity.     The  perfection  of  our  oblation  consists  in  our 
offering  ourselves  to  God  without  reserve.     All  are  pre 
pared  to  unite  themselves  to  the  divine  will  in  prosperity ; 
but  perfection  consists  in  conforming  to  it,  even  in  adver 
sity.     To  thank  God  in  all  things  that  are  agreeable  to 
us,  is  acceptable  to  him  ;  but  to  accept  with  cheerfulness 
what  is  repugnant  to  our  inclinations,  is  still  more  pleas 
ing  to  him.     Father  M.  Avila  used  to  say,  that  "a  single 
blessed  be  God,  in  adversity,  is  better  than  six  thousand 
thanksgivings  in  prosperity." 

7.  We  should  conform  to  the  divine  will,  not  only  in 
misfortunes  which  come  directly  from   God — such   as 
sickness,  loss  of  property,  privation  of  friends  and  rela 
tives — but  also  in  crosses  which  come  to  us  from  men, 
but  indirectly  from  God — such  as  acts  of  injustice,  defa 
mations,  calumnies,  injuries,  and  all  other  sorts  of  perse 
cutions.     But,  you  may  ask,  does  God  will  that  others 
commit  sin,  by  injuring  us  in  our  property  or  in  our 
reputation  ?     No  ;  God  wills  not  their  sin  ;  but  he  wishes 
us  to  bear  with  such  a  loss  and  with  such  a  humiliation ; 
and  he  wishes  us  to  conform,  on  all  such  occasions,  to  his 
divine  will. 

8.  "Good  things  and   evil... are   from  God."  (Eccl. 
xi.  14.)     All  blessings — such  as  riches  and  honours — and 
all  misfortunes — such   as   sickness   and   persecutions — 
come  from  God.      But  mark  that  the  Scripture  calls 
them  evils,  only  because  we,  through  the  want  of  con 
formity  to  the  will  of  God,  regard  them  as  evils  and 
misfortunes.     But,  in  reality,  if  we  accepted  them  from 
the   hands   of  God   with    Christian    resignation,    they 
should  be  blessings  and  not  evils.     The  jewels  which 
give  the  greatest  splendour  to  the  crown  of  the  saints 
in  heaven,  are  the  tribulations  which  they  bore  with 
patience,  as  coming  from  the  hands  of  the  Lord.     On 
hearing  that  the  Sabeans  had  taken  away  all  his  oxen 


208  SERMON    XX VI II. 


and  asses,  holy  Job  said :  "  The  Lord  gave,  and  the 
Lord  hath  taken  away."  (Job  i.  21.)  He  did  not  say 
that  the  Lord  gave,  and  that  the  Sabeans  had  taken 
away ;  but  that  the  Lord  gave,  and  that  the  Lord  had 
taken  away :  and  therefore  he  blessed  the  Lord,  believing 
that  all  had  happened  through  the  divine  will."  As  it 
has  pleased  the  Lord,  so  it  is  done :  blessed  be  the  name 
of  the  Lord."  (Ibid.)  Being  tormented  with  iron  hooks 
and  burning  torches,  the  holy  martyrs  Epictetus  and 
Atone  said:  "  Lord,  thy  will  be  done  in  us."  And  their 
last  words  were  :  "  Be  blessed,  0  eternal  God,  for  having 
given  us  the  grace  to  accomplish  thy  will." 

9.  "  Whatsoever  shall  befall  the  just  man,  it  shall  not 
make  him  sad."   (Prov.  xii.  21.)     A  soul  that  loves  God 
is  not  disturbed  by  any  misfortune  that  may  happen  to 
her.     Cesarius  relates  (lib.  x.,  c.  vi.),  that  a  certain  monk 
who  did  not  perform  greater  austerities  than  his  com 
panions,  wrought  many  miracles.     Being  astonished  at 
this,  the  abbot  asked  him  one  day  what  were  the  works 
of  piety  which  he  practised.     He  answered,  that  he  was 
more  imperfect  than  the  other  monks  ;  but  that  his  sole 
concern  was  to  conform  himself  to  the  divine  will.  Were 
you  displeased,  said  the  abbot,  with  the  person  who  in 
jured  us  so  grievously  a  few  days  ago  ?     No,  father, 
replied  the  monk ;  I,  on  the  contrary,  thanked  God  for 
it ;  because  I  know  that  he  does  or  permits  all  things 
for  our  good.     From  this  answer  the  abbot  perceived  the 
sanctity  of  the  good   religious.     We  should  act  in  a 
similar  manner  under  all  the  crosses  that  come  upon  us. 
Let  us  always  say :  "  Yea,  Father  ;  for  so  hath  it  seemed 
good  in  thy  sight."  (Matt.  xi.  26.)     Lord,  this  is  pleas 
ing  to  thee,  let  it  be  done. 

10.  He  that  acts  in  this  manner  enjoys  that  peace 
which  the  angels  announced  at  the  birth  of  Jesus  Christ 
to  men  of  good  will — that  is,  to  those  whose  wills  are 
united  to  the  will  of  God.     These,  as  the  Apostle  says, 
enjoy  that  peace  which  exceeds   all   sensual   delights. 
u  The  peace  of  God,  which  surpasseth  all  understand 
ing."  (Phil.  iv.  7.)     A  great  and  solid  peace,  which  is 
not   liable   to   change.     "A   holy   man   continueth   in 
wisdom  like  the  su*i ;  but  a  fool  is  changing  like  the 
moon."   (Eccl.  xxvii   12.)     Fools — that  is,  sinners — are 


CONFORMITY   TO   THE    WILL    OF  GOD. 


changed  like  the  moon,  which  increases  to-day,  and 
grows  less  on  to-morrow  ;  to-day  they  are  seen  to  laugh 
through  folly,  and  to-morrow,  to  weep  through  despair  ; 
to-day  they  are  humhle  and  meek,  to-morrow,  proud 
and  furious.  In  a  word,  sinners  change  with  prosperity 
and  adversity  ;  hut  the  just  are  like  the  sun,  always  the 
same,  always  serene  in  whatever  happens  to  them.  In 
the  inferior  part  of  the  soul  they  cannot  but  feel  some 
pain  at  the  misfortunes  which  befall  them  ;  but,  as  long 
as  the  will  remains  united  to  the  will  of  God,  nothing- 
can  deprive  them  of  that  spiritual  joy  which  is  not  sub 
ject  to  the  vicissitudes  of  this  life.  "  Your  joy  no  mail 
shall  take  from  you."  (John  xvi.  22.) 

11.  He  that  reposes  in  the  divine  will,  is  like  a  man 
placed  above  the  clouds  :    he  sees  the  lightning,  and 
hears  the  claps  of  thunder,  and  the  raging  of  the  tem 
pest  below,  but  he  is  not  injured  or  disturbed  by  them. 
And  how  can  he  be  ever  disturbed,  when  whatever  he 
desires  always  happens  ?     He  that  desires  only  what 
pleases   God,    always    obtains   whatsoever    he   wishes, 
because  all  that  happens  to  him,  happens  through  the 
will  of  God.     Salvian  says,  that   Christians  who   are 
resigned,  if  they  be  in  a  low  condition  of  life,  wish  to  be 
in  that  state  ;  if  they  be  poor,  they  desire  poverty  ;  be 
cause  they  wish  whatever  God  wills,  and  therefore  they 
are  always  content.     "  Humiles  sunt,  hoc  volunt,  pau- 
peres  sunt,  paupertate  delectantur  :  itaque  beati  dicendi 
sunt."     If  cold,  or  heat,  or  rain,  or  wind  come  on,  he 
that  is  united  to  the  will  of  God  says  :  I  wish  for  this 
cold,  this  heat,  this  rain,  and  this  wind,  because  God 
wills  them.     If  loss  of  property,  persecution,  sickness, 
or  even  death  come  upon  him,  he  says  :  I  wish  for  this 
loss,  this  persecution,  this  sickness  ;    I  even  wish  for 
death,  when  it  comes,  because  God  wills  it.     And  how 
can  a  person  who  seeks  to  please  God,  enjoy  greater 
happiness  than  that  which  arises  from  cheerfully  em 
bracing  the  cross  which  God  sends  him,  and  from  the 
conviction  that,  in  embracing  it,  he  pleases  God  in  the 
highest  degree  ?     So  great  was  the  joy  which  St.  Mary 
Magdalene  de  Pazzi  used  to  feel  at  the  bare  mention  of 
the  will  of  God,  that  she  would  fall  into  an  ecstacy. 

12.  But,  how  great  is  the  folly  of  those  who  resist 

o 


210  SERMON   XXVIII. 


the  divine  will,  and,  instead  of  receiving  tribulations 
with  patience,  get  into  a  rage,  and  accuse  God  of  treat 
ing  them  with  injustice  and  cruelty !  Perhaps  they 
expect  that,  in  consequence  of  their  opposition,  what 
God  wills  shall  not  happen  ?  "  Who  resisteth  his  will  ?" 
(Rom.  ix.  19.)  Miserable  men !  instead  of  lightening 
the  cross  which  God  sends  them,  they  make  it  more 
heavy  and  painful.  "  Who  hath  resisted  him,  and  hath 
peace  ?"  (Job  ix.  4.)  Let  us  be  resigned  to  the  divine 
will,  and  we  shall  thus  render  our  crosses  light,  and 
shall  gain  great  treasures  of  merits  for  eternal  life.  In 
sending  us  tribulations,  God  intends  to  make  us  saints. 
"  This  is  the  will  of  God,  your  sanctification."  (1  Thess. 
iv.  3.)  He  sends  us  crosses,  not  because  he  wishes  evil 
to  us,  but  because  he  desires  our  welfare,  and  because 
he  knows  that  they  are  conducive  to  our  salvation. 
"  All  things  work  together  unto  good."  (Rom.  viii.  28.) 
Even  the  chastisements  which  come  from  the  Lord  are 
not  for  our  destruction,  but  for  our  good  and  for  the 
correction  of  our  faults.  "  Let  us  believe  that  these 
scourges  of  the  Lord....have  happened  for  our  amend 
ment,  and  not  for  our  destruction."  (Jud.  viii.  27.)  God 
loves  us  so  tenderly,  that  he  not  only  desires,  but  is 
solicitous  about  our  welfare.  "  The  Lord,"  says  David, 
"  is  careful  for  me."  (Ps.  xxxix.  18.) 

13.  Let  us,  then,  always  throw  ourselves  into  the 
hands  of  God,  who  so  ardently  desires  and  so  anxiously 
watches  over  our  eternal  salvation.  "  Casting  all  your 
care  upon  him ;  for  he  hath  care  of  you."  (1  Peter  v.  7.) 
He  who,  during  life,  casts  himself  into  the  hands  of 
God,  shall  lead  a  happy  life  and  shall  die  a  holy  death. 
He  who  dies  resigned  to  the  divine  will,  dies  a  saint ; 
but  they  who  shall  not  have  been  united  to  the  divine 
will  during  life,  shall  not  conform  to  it  at  death,  and 
shall  not  be  saved.  The  accomplishment  of  the  divine 
will  should  be  the  sole  object  of  all  our  thoughts  during 
the  remainder  of  our  days.  To  this  end  we  should 
direct  all  our  devotions,  our  meditations,  communions, 
visits  to  the  blessed  sacrament,  and  all  our  prayers.  We 
should  constantly  beg  of  God  to  teach  and  help  us  to  do 
his  will.  "Teach  me  to  do  thy  will."  (Ps.  cxlii.  10.) 
Let  us,  at  the  same  time,  offer  ourselves  to  accept  with- 


LOVE  OF  THE  THREE  DIVINE  PERSONS  FOR  MAN.      211 

out  reserve  whatever  he  ordains,  saying,  with  the 
Apostle  :  "  Lord,  what  wilt  thou  have  me  to  do  ?"  (Acts 
ix.  6.)  Lord,  tell  me  what  thou  dost  wish  me  to  do  •  I 
desire  to  do  thy  will.  And  in  all  things,  whether  they 
be  pleasing  or  painful,  let  us  always  have  in  our  mouths 
that  petition  of  the  PATER  NOSTER-—  •"  Thy  will  be  done  " 
Let  us  frequently  repeat  it  in  the  day,  with  all  the 
affection  of  our  hearts.  Happy  we,  if  we  lire  and  die 
saying  :  "  Thy  will  be  done  Tthy  will  be  done  !" 

SEEMON  XXIX.—  TRINITY  SUNDAY. 

On  the  love  of  the  Three  Divine  Persons  for  man. 

'  Sier.efore'  \e&ch  .Ve  a11  nations,  baptizing  them  in  the  name 
e  lather,  and  of  the  Son,  and  of  the  Holy  Ghost."—  MATT. 


ST.   LEO  has  said,   that  the  nature  of  God  is    by  its 
essence,  goodness  itself.     "  Deus  cujus  natura  bonitas  " 
Now,  goodness  naturally  diffuses  itself.      "  Bonum  est 
sui   diffusivum."     And  by   experience  we   know   that 
men  of  a  good  heart  are  full  of  love  for  all,  and  desire 
to  share  with   all  the  goods  which  they  enjoy      God 
being  infinite  goodness,  is  all  love  towards  us  his  crea 
tures.      Hence   St.   John   calls   him   pure   love  _  pure 
charity.     "God  is  charity."  (1  John  iv.  8.)     And  there- 
lore  he  ardently  desires  to  make  us  partakers  of  his 
own  happiness.     Faith  teaches  us  how  much  the  Three 
Divine  Persons  have  done  through  love  to  man,  and  to 
enrich   him   with   heavenly   gifts.      In   saying   to   his 
apostles  "  Teach  ye  all  nations,  baptizing  them  in  the 
name  of  the  Father,  and  of  the  Son,  and  of  the  Holy 
jnost,  '  Jesus  Christ  wished  that  they  should  not  only 
instruct  the  Gentiles  in  the  mystery  of  the  Most  Holy 
Irmity  but  that  they  should  also  teach  them  the  love 
which  the  adorable  Trinity  bears  to  man.     I  intend  to 
propose  this  day  for  your  consideration  the  love  shown 
to  us  by  the  Father  in  our  creation  ;  secondly,  the  love 
ol  the  hon  m  our  redemption;  and  thirdly,  the  love  of 
tne  Holy  Ghost,  in  our  sanctification. 

First  Point—  The  love  shown  to  us  by  the  Father  in 
our  creation. 


212  SERMON    XXIX. 


1.  "  I  have  loved  thee  with  an  everlasting  love,  there 
fore  have  I  drawn  thee,  taking  pity  on  thee."  (Jer.  xxxi. 
3.)     My  son,  says  the  Lord,  I  have  loved  you  for  eter 
nity,  and,  through  love  for  you,  I  have  shown  mercy  to 
you  by  drawing  you  out  of  nothing.     Hence,  beloved 
Christians,  of  all  those  who  love  you,  God  has  been 
your  first  lover.     Your  parents  have  been  the  first  to 
love  you  on  this  earth  ;  but  they  have  loved  you  only 
after  they  had  known  you.    But,  before  you  had  a  being, 
God  loved  you.      Before  your  father  or  mother  was 
born,  God  loved  you;  yes,  even  before  the  creation  of 
the  world,  he  loved  you.     And  how  long  before  creation 
has  God  loved  you?     Perhaps  for  a  thousand  years,  or 
for  a  thousand  ages.     It  is  needless  to  count  years  or 
ages;  God  loved  you  from  eternity.     "I  have  loved 
thee  with  an  evei  lasting  love."     As  long  as  he  has  been 
God,  he  has  luved  you :  as  long  as  he  has  loved  himself, 
he  has  loved  you.     The  thought  of  this  love  made  St. 
Agnes  the  Virgin  exclaim  :  "  I  am  prevented  by  another 
lover."     When  creatures  asked  her  heart,  she  answered: 
Ko:  I  cannot  prefer  you  to  my  God.     He  has  been 
the  first  to  love  me;  it  is  then  but  just  that  he  should 
hold  the  first  place  in  my  affections. 

2.  Thus,  brethren,  God  has  loved  you  from  eternity, 
and  through  pure  love,  he  has  selected  you  from  among 
so  many  men  whom  he  could  have  created  in  place  of 
you;  but  he  has  left  them  in  their  nothingness,  and  has 
brought  you  into  existence,  and  placed  you  in  the  world. 
For  the  love  of  you  he  has  made  so  many  other  beauti 
ful  creatures,  that  they  might  serve  you,  and  that  they 
might  remind  you  of  the  love  which  he  has  borne  to 
you,  and  of  the  gratitude  which  you  ^owe  to  him. 
"  Heaven  and  Earth,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  and  all 
things  tell  me  to  love  thee/'  When  the  saint  beheld  the 
sun,  the  stars,  the  mountains,  the  sea,  the  rains,  they  all 
appeared  to  him  to  speak,  and  to  say :  Augustine,  love 
God ;  for  he  has  created  us  that  you  might  love  him. 
When  the  Abbe  de  Ranee,  the  founder  of  La  Trappe, 
looked  at  the  hills,  the  fountains,  or  flowers,  he  said  that 
all  these  creatures  reminded  him  of  the  love  which  God 
had  borne  him.  St.  Teresa  used  to  say,  that  these  crea 
tures  reproached  her  with  her  ingratitude  to  God. 


LOVE  OF  THE  THREE  DIVINE  PERSONS  FOR  MAN.      213 

Whilst  she  held  a  flower  or  fruit  in  her  hand,  St.  Mary 
Magdalene  de  Pazzi  used  to  feel  her  heart  wounded 
with  divine  love,  and  would  say  within  herself:  Then, 
my  God  has  thought  from  eternity  of  creating  this  flower 
and  this  fruit  that  I  might  love  him. 

3.  Moreover,  seeing  us  condemned  to  hell,  in  punish 
ment  of  our  sins,  the  Eternal  Father,  through  love  for 
us,  has  sent  his  Son  on  the  earth  to  die  on  the  cross,  in 
order  to  redeem  us  from  hell,  and  to  bring  us  with  him 
self  into  Paradise.     "  God  so  loved  the  world,  as  to  give 
his  only  begotten  Son  "  (John  iii.  16),  love,  which  the 
apostle  calls  an  excess  of  love.     "  For  his  exceeding 
charity  wherewith  he   loved   us,  even  when   we  were 
dead  in  sin,  has  quickened  us  together  in  Christ."  (Eph. 
ii.  4,  5.) 

4.  See  also  the  special  love  which  God  has  shown  you 
in  bringing  you  into  life  in  a  Christian  country,  and  in 
the  bosom  of  the  Catholic  or  true  Church.     How  many 
are  born  among  the  pagans,  among  the  Jews,  among 
the  Mahometans  and  heretics,  and  all  are  lost.     Con 
sider  that,  compared  with  these,  only  a  few — not  even 
the  tenth  part  of  the  human  race — have  the  happiness 
of  being  born  in  a  country  where  the  true  faith  reigns ; 
and,  amon^  that  small  number,  he  has  chosen  you.     Oh ! 
what  an  invaluable  benefit  is  the  gift  of  faith  !     How 
many  millions  of  souls,  among  infidels  and  heretics,  are 
deprived  of  the  sacraments,  of  sermons,  of  good  example, 
and  of  the  other  helps  to  salvation  which  we  possess  in 
the  true  Church.     And  the  Lord  resolved  to  bestow  on 
us  all  these  great  graces,  without  any  merit  on  our  part, 
and  even  with  the  foreknowledge  of  our  demerits.     For 
when  he  thought  of  creating  us  and  of  conferring  these 
favours  upon  us,  he  foresaw  our  sins,  and  the  injuries 
we  would  commit  against  him. 

Second  Point.     The  love  which  the  Son  of  God  has 
shown  to  us  in  our  redemption. 

5.  Adam,  our  first  father,  sins  by  eating  the  for 
bidden  apple,  and  is  condemned  to  eternal  death,  along 
with  all  his  posterity.     Seeing  the  whole  human  race 
doomed  to  perdition,  God  resolved  to  send  a  redeemer 
to  save  mankind.     Who  shall  come  to  accomplish  their 


214  SERMON    XXIX. 


redemption  ?  Perhaps  an  angel  or  a  seraph.  No  ;  the 
Son  of  God,  the  supreme  and  true  God,  equal  to  the 
Father,  offers  himself  to  come  on  earth,  and  there  to 
take  human  fle^h,  and  to  die  for  the  salvation  of  men. 
0  prodigy  of  Divine  love  !  Man,  says  St.  Fulgen- 
tius,  despises  God,  and  separates  himself  from  God, 
and  through  love  for  him,  God  comes  on  earth  to 
seek  after  rebellious  man.  "  Homo  Deum  contem- 
nens,  a  Deo  disce-ssit  :  Deus  hominem  diligens,  ad 
homines  venit."  (Serm.  in  Xativ.  Christ.)  Since,  says 
St.  Augustine,  we  could  not  go  to  the  Redeemer,  he 
has  deigned  to  come  to  us.  "  Quia  ad  mediatorem 
venire  non  poteramus,  ipse  ad  nos  venire  dignatus  est." 
And  why  has  Jesus  Christ  resolved  to  come  to  us  ?  Ac 
cording  to  the  same  holy  doctor,  it  is  to  convince  us  of 
his  great  love  for  us.  "  Christ  came,  that  man  might 
know  how  much  God  loves  him." 

G.  Hence  the  Apostle  writes :  "  The  goodness  and 
kindness  of  God  our  Saviour  appeared."  (Tit.  iii.  5.) 
In  the  Greek  text,  the  words  are  :  "  Singularis  Dei 
erga  homines  apparuit  amor  :"  "  The  singular  love 
of  God  towards  men  appeared."  In  explaining  this 
passage,  St.  Bernard  says,  that  before  God  appeared  on 
earth  in  human  flesh,  men  could  not  arrive  at  a  know 
ledge  of  the  divine  goodness  ;  therefore  the  Eternal 
"Word  took  human  nature,  that,  appearing  in  the  form 
of  man,  men  might  know  the  goodness  of  God.  "  Pri- 
usquam  apparet  humanitas,  latebat  beniguitas,  sed  undo 
tanta  agnosci  poterat  ?  Venit  in  came  ut,  apparante 
humanitate,  cognosceretur  benignitas."  (Serm.  i.,  in 
Eph.)  And  wrhat  greater  love  and  goodness  could  the 
Son  of  God  show  to  us,  than  to  become  man  and  to 
become  a  worm  like  us,  in  order  to  save  us  from,  perdi 
tion  ?  What  astonishment  would  we  not  feel,  if  we  saw 
a  prince  become  a  worm  to  save  the  worms  of  his  king 
dom  !  And  what  shall  we  say  at  the  sight  of  a  God 
made  man  like  us,  to  deliver  us  from  eternal  death  ? 
"The  word  was  made  flesh."  (John  i.  14.)  A  God 
made  flesh  !  if  faith  did  not  assure  us  of  it,  who  could 
ever  believe  it?  Behold  then,  as  St.  Paul  says,  a  Gud 
as  it  were  annihilated.  "  He  emptied  himself,  taking 
the  form  of  a  servant and  in  habit  found  as  a  man/' 


LOVE  OF  THE  THREE  DIVINE  PERSONS  FOR  MAN.      215 

(Phil.  ii.  7.)  By  these  words  the  Apostle  gives  us  to 
understand,  that  the  Son  of  God,  who  was  filled  with 
the  divine  majesty  and  power,  humbled  himself  so  as 
to  assume  the  lowly  and  impotent  condition  of  human 
nature,  taking  the  form  or  nature  of  a  servant,  and  he- 
coming  like  men  in  his  external  appearance,  although, 
as  St.  Chrysostom  observes,  he  was  not  a  mere  man,  but 
man  and  God.  Hearing  a  deacon  singing  the  words  of 
St.  John,  "  and  the  Word  was  made  flesh,"  St.  Peter  of 
Alcantara  fell  into  ecstasy,  and  flew  through  the  air  to 
the  altar  of  the  most  holy  sacrament. 

7.  But  this  God  of  love,  the  Incarnate  Word,  was  not 
content  with  becoming  flesh  for  the  love  of  man ;  but, 
according  to  Isaias,  he  wished  to  live  among  us,  as  the 
last  and  lowest,  and  most  afflicted  of  men.      "  There 
is  no  beauty  in  him,  nor  comeliness :  and  we  have  seen 

him despised,  and  the  most  abject  of  men,  a  man  of 

sorrows."  (Isa.  iii.  2,  3.)     He  was  a  man  of  sorrows. 
Yes  ;  for  the  life  of  Jesus  Christ  was  full  of  sorrows. 
Virum  dolorum.     He  was  a  man  made  on  purpose  to 
be  tormented  with  sorrows.      From  his  birth  till  his 
death,  the  life  of  our  Redeemer  was  all  full  of  sorrows. 

8.  And  because  he  came  on  earth  to  gain  our  love, 
as  he  declared  when  he  said — "  I  am  come  to  cast  fire 
on  the  earth  ;  and  what  will  I  but  that  it  be  kindled  ?" 
(Luke  xii.  49),  he  wished  at  the  close  of  his  life  to  give 
us  the  strongest  marks  and  proofs  of  the  love  which  he 
bears  to  us.     "  Having  loved  his  own  who  were  in  the 
world,  he  loved  them  unto  the  end."    (John  xiii.   1.) 
Hence  he  not  only  humbled  himself  to  death  for  us,  but 
he  also  chose  to   die  the  most  painful  and  opprobrious 
of  all  deaths.  "  He  humbled  himself,  becoming  obedient 
unto  death,  even  unto  the  death  of  the  cross."  (Phil.  ii.  8.) 
They  who  were  crucified  among  the  Jews,  were  objects 
of  malediction  and  reproach  to  all.     '*  He  is  accursed 
of  God  that  hangeth  on  a  tree."  (Deut.  xxi.  23.)     Our 
Redeemer  wished  to  die  the  shameful  death  of  the  cross, 
in  the  midst  of  a  tempest  of  ignominies  and  sorrows. 
"  I  am  come  into  the  depths  of  the  sea,  and  a  tempest 
hath  overwhelmed  me."  (Ps.  Ixviii.  3.) 

9.  "  In  this/'  says  St.  John,  "  we  have  known  the 
charity  of  God,  because  he  hath  laid  down  his  life  for 


216  SERMON   XXIX. 


us."  (1  John  iii.  16.)  And  how  could  God  give  us  a 
greater  proof  of  his  love  than  hy  laying  down  his  life 
for  us  ?  Or,  how  is  it  possible  for  us  to  behold  a  God 
dead  on  the  cross  for  our  sake,  and  not  love  him? 
"  For  the  charity  of  Christ  presseth  us."  (2  Cor.  v.  14.) 
By  these  words  St.  Paul  tells  us,  that  it  is  not  so  much 
•what  Jesus  Christ  has  done  and  suffered  for  our  salva 
tion,  as  the  love  which  he  has  shown  in  suffering  and 
dying  for  us,  that  obliges  and  compels  us  to  love  him. 
He  has,  as  the  same  Apostle  adds,  died  for  all,  that 
each  of  us  may  live  no  longer  for  himself,  but  only 
for  that  God  who  has  given  his  life  for  the  love  of  us. 
"  Christ  died  for  all,  that  they  also  who  live,  may  not 
live  to  themselves,  but  unto  him  who  died  for  them, 
and  rose  again."  (2  Cor.  v.  15.)  And,  to  captivate  our 
love,  he  has,  after  having  given  his  life  for  us,  left 
himself  for  the  food  of  our  souls.  "  Take  ye  and  eat : 
this  is  my  body."  (Matt.  xxvi.  26.)  Had  not  faith  taught 
that  he  left  himself  for  our  food,  who  could  ever  believe 
it  ?  But  of  the  prodigy  of  divine  love  manifested  in 
the  holy  sacrament,  I  shall  speak  on  the  second  Sunday 
after  Pentecost  Let  us  pass  to  a  brief  consideration  of 
the  third  point. 

Third  Point.  On  the  love  shown  to  us  by  the  Holy 
Ghost  in  our  sanctification. 

.10.  The  Eternal  Father  was  not  content  with  giving 
us  his  Son  Jesus  Christ,  that  he  might  save  us  by  his 
death ;  he  has  also  given  us  the  Holy  Ghost,  that  he 
may  dwell  in  our  souls,  and  that  he  may  keep  them 
always  inflamed  with  holy  love.  In  spite  of  all  the  in 
juries  which  he  received  on  earth  from  men,  Jesus 
Christ,  forgetful  of  their  ingratitude,  after  having 
ascended  into  heaven,  sent  us  the  Holy  Ghost,  that, 
by  his  holy  flames,  this  di  vine  spirit  might  kindle  in  our 
hearts  the  fire  of  divine  charity,  and  sanctify  our  souls. 
Hence,  when  he  descended  on  the  apostles,  he  appeared 
in  the  form  of  tongues  of  fire.  "  And  there  appeared 
to  them  parted  tongues,  as  it  were  of  fire."  (Acts  ii.  3.) 
Hence  the  Church  prescribes  the  following  prayer : — 
"  We  beseech  thee,  O  Lord,  that  the  Spirit  may  inflame 
us  with  that  fire  which  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ  sent  on 


LOVE  OF  THE  THREE  DIVINE  PERSONS  FOR  MAN.       217 

the  earth,  and  vehemently  wished  to  be  enkindled." 
This  is  the  holy  fire  which  inflamed  the  saints  with  the 
desire  of  doing  great  things  for  God,  which  enabled 
them  to  love  their  most  cruel  enemies,  to  seek  after  con 
tempt,  to  renounce  all  the  riches  and  honours  of  the 
world,  and  even  to  embrace  with  joy  torments  and 
death. 

11.  The  Holy  Ghost  is  that  divine  bond  which  unites 
the  Father  with  the  Son  ;  it  is  he  that  unites  our  souls, 
through  love,  with  God.     For,  as  St.  Augustine  says, 
an  union  with  God  is  the  effect  of  love.     "  Charity  is  a 
virtue  which  unites  us  with  God."     The  chains  of  the 
world  are  chains  of  death,  but  the  bonds  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  are  bonds  of  eternal  life,  because  they  bind  us  to 
God,  who  is  our  true  and  only  life. 

12.  Let  us  also  remember  that  all  the  lights,  inspira 
tions,  divine  calls,  all  the  good  acts  which  we  have  per 
formed  during  our  life,   all  our  acts  of  contrition,  of 
confidence  in  the  divine  mercy,  of  love,  of  resignation, 
have  been  the  gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost.     "  Likewise  the 
Spirit  also  helpeth  our  infirmity  ;  for  we  know  not  what 
we  should  pray  for  as  we  ought ;  but  the  Spirit  himself 
asketh  for  us  with  unspeakable  groanings."  (Rom.  viii. 
26.)     Thus,  it  is  the  Holy  Ghost  that  prays  for  us  ;  for 
we  know  not  what  we  ought  to  ask,  but  the  Holy  Spirit 
teaches  us  what  we  should  pray  for. 

13.  In  a  word,  the  Three  Persons  of  the  Most  Holy 
Trinity  have  endeavoured  to  show  the  love  which  God 
has  borne  us,  that  we  may  love  him  through  gratitude. 
"  When,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  God  loves,  he  wishes  only 
to  be  loved/'     It  is,  then,  but  just  that  we  love  that 
God  who  has  been  the  first  to  love  us,  and  to  put  us 
under  so  many  obligations  by  so  many  proofs  of  tender 
love.     "  Let  us,  therefore,  love  God,  because  God  first 
hath  loved  us."  (1  John  iv.  19.)     Oh !  what  a  treasure 
is  charity  !  it  is  an  infinite  treasure,  because  it  makes  us 
partakers  of  the  friendship  of  God.     "  She  is  an  infinite 
treasure  to  men,  which  they  that  use  become  the  friends 
of  God."  (Wis.  vii.  14.)     But,  to  acquire  this  treasure, 
it  is  necessary  to  detach  the  heart  from  earthly  things. 
"  Detach  the  heart  from  creatures,"   says  St.  Teresa, 
"and  you  shall  find  God."      In  a  heart  filled  with 


218 


SERMON    XXX. 


earthly  affections,  there  is  no  room  for  divine  love.  Let 
us  therefore  continually  implore  the  Lord  in  our  prayers, 
communions,  and  visits  to  the  blessed  sacrament,  to  give 
us  his  holy  love ;  for  this  love  will  expel  from  our  souls 
all  affections  for  the  things  of  this  earth.  "  When," 
says  St.  Francis  de  Sales,  "  a  house  is  on  fire,  all  that 'is 
within  is  thrown  out  through  the  windows."  By  these 
words  the  saint  meant,  that  when  a  soul  is  inflamed  with 
divine  love,  she  easily  detaches  herself  from  creatures  : 
and  Father  Paul  Segneri,  the  younger,  used  to  say,  that 
divine  love  is  a  thief  that  robs  us  of  all  earthly  affections, 
and  makes  us  exclaim  :  "  What,  O  my  Lord,  but  thee 
alone,  do  I  desire  ?" 

14.  "  Love  is  strong  ns  death."  (Cant.  viii.  6.)  As  no 
creature  can  resist  death  when  the  hour  of  dissolution 
arrives,  so  there  is  no  difficulty  which  love,  in  a  soul 
that  loves  God,  does  not  overcome.  When  there  is 
question  of  pleasing  her  beloved,  love  conquers  all 
things  :  it  conquers  pains,  losses,  ignominies.  "  Nihil 
tarn  durum  quod  non  amoris  igne  vincatur."  This  love 
made  the  martyrs,  in  the  midst  of  torments,  racks,  and 
burning  gridirons,  rejoice,  and  thank  God  for  enabling 
them  to  suffer  for  him  :  it  made  the  other  saints,  when 
there  was  no  tyrant  to  torment  them,  become,  as  it 
were,  their  own  executioners,  by  fasts,  disciplines,  and 
penitential  austerities.  St.  Augustine  says,  that  in  doing 
what  one  loves  there  is  no  labour,  and  if  there  be,  the 
labour  itself  is  loved.  "  In  eo  quod  amatur  aut  non 
laboratur,  aut  ipse  labor  amatur." 


SERMON  XXX.— FIRST  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  charity  to  our  neighbour. 

"For  with  the  same  measure  that  you  shall  mete  withal,  it  shall  be 
measured  to  you  again." — LUKE  vi.  38. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  find  that  Jesus  Christ  once  said 
to  his  disciples  :  "  Be  ye  merciful,  as  your  Father  also 
is  merciful."  (Luke  vi.  36.)  As  your  heavenly  Father 
is  merciful  towards  you,  so  must  you  be  merciful  to 
others.  He  then  proceeds  to  explain  how,  and  in  what, 


CHARITY    TO    OUR    NEIGHBOUR.  219 

we  should  practise  holy  charity  to  our  neighbour. 
"Judge  not,"  he  adds,  "  and  you  shall  not  be  judged" 
(v.  37).  Here  he  speaks  against  those  who  do  not 
abstain  from  judging  rashly  of  their  neighbours.  "  For 
give,  and  you  shall  be  forgiven"  (ibid).  He  tells  us 
that  we  cannot  obtain  pardon  of  the  offences  we  have 
offered  to  God,  unless  we  pardon  those  who  have 
offended  us.  "  Give,  and  it  shall  be  given  to  you" 
(v.  38).  By  these  words  he  condemns  those  who  wish 
that  God  should  grant  whatsoever  they  desire,  and  are 
at  the  same  time  niggardly  and  avaricious  towards  the 
poor.  In  conclusion  he  declares,  that  the  measure  of 
charity  which  we  use  to  our  neighbour  shall  be  the 
same  that  God  will  use  towards  us.  Let  us,  then,  see 
how  we  should  practise  charity  to  our  neighbour  :  we 
ought  to  practise  it,  first,  in  our  thoughts  ;  secondly,  in 
words  ;  thirdly,  by  works. 

First  Point.  How  we  should  practise  charity  to  our 
neighbour  in  our  thoughts. 

1.  "And  this  commandment  we  have  from  God,  that 
he  who  loveth  God,  love  also  his  brother."  (1  John  iv. 
21.)  The  same  precept,  then,  which  obliges  us  to  love 
God,  commands  us  to  love  our  neighbour.  St.  Catherine 
of  Genoa  said  one  day  to  the  Lord  :  "  My  God,  thou  dost 
wish  me  to  love  my  neighbour ;  but  I  can  love  no  one 
but  thee."  The  Lord  said  to  her  in  answer  :  "  My  child, 
he  that  loves  me  loves  whatsoever  I  love."  Hence  St. 
John  says  :  "  If  any  man  say :  I  love  God,  and  hateth 
his  brother,  he  is  a  liar."  (1  John  iv.  20.)  And  Jesus 
Christ  has  declared  that  he  will  receive,  as  done  to  him 
self,  the  charity  which  we  practise  towards  the  least  of 
his  brethren. 

'2.  Hence  we  must,  in  the  first  place,  practise  fraternal 
charity  in  our  thoughts,  by  never  judging  evil  of  any 
one  without  certain  foundation.  "  Judge  not,  and  you 
shall  not  be  judged."  He  who  judges  without  certain 
grounds  that  another  has  committed  a  mortal  sin,  is 
guilty  of  a  grievous  fault ;  if  he  only  rashly  suspects 
another  of  a  mortal  sin,  he  commits  at  least  a  venial 
offence.  But,  to  judge  or  suspect  evil  of  another  is  not 
sinful  when  we  have  certain  grounds  for  the  judgment 


220 


SERMON    XXX. 


or  suspicion.  However,  he  that  has  true  charity  thinks 
well  of  all,  and  banishes  from  his  mind  both  judgments 
and  suspicions.  "  Charity  thinketh  no  evil."  (1  Cor. 
xiii.  5.)  The  heads  of  families  are  obliged  to  suspect 
the  evil  which  may  be  done  by  those  who  are  under 
their  care.  Certain  fathers  and  foolish  mothers  know 
ingly  allow  their  sons  to  frequent  bad  company  and 
houses  in  which  there  are  young  females,  and  permit 
their  daughters  to  be  alone  with  men.  They  endeavour 
to  justify  the  neglect  of  their  children  by  saying:  "  I  do 
not  wish  to  entertain  bad  thoughts  of  others."  O  folly 
of  parents !  They  are  in  such  cases  bound  to  suspect 
the  evil  which  may  happen ;  and,  in  order  to  prevent  it, 
they  should  correct  their  children.  But  they  that  are 
not  entrusted  with  the  care  of  others,  ought  to  abstain 
carefully  from  inquiring  after  the  defects  and  conduct  of 
others. 

3.  When  sickness,  loss  of  property,  or  any  misfortune 
happens  to  a  neighbour,  charity  requires  that  we  regret, 
at  least  with  the  superior  part  of  the  soul,  the  evil  that 
has  befallen  him.  I  say,  "  with  the  superior  part  of  the 
soul ;"  for,  when  we  hear  of  the  misfortunes  of  an  enemy, 
our  inferior  appetite  appears  to  feel  delight ;  but,  as  long 
as  we  do  not  consent  to  that  delight,  we  are  not  guilty 
of  sin.  However,  it  is  sometimes  lawful  to  desire,  or  to 
be  pleased  at,  the  temporal  evil  of  another,  when  we 
expect  that  it  will  be  productive  of  spiritual  good  to 
himself  or  to  others.  For  example :  it  is  lawful,  accord 
ing  to  St.  Gregory,  to  rejoice  at  the  sickness  or  misfor 
tune  of  an  obstinate  and  scandalous  sinner,  and  even  to 
desire  that  he  may  fall  into  sickness  or  poverty,  in  order 
that  he  may  cease  to  lead  a  wicked  life,  or  at  least  to 
scandalize  others.  Behold  the  words  of  St.  Gregory: 
"  E venire  plerumque  potest,  ut  non  amissa  charitate,  et 
inimici  nostri  ruina  Iffitificet,  et  ejus  gloria  sine  invidiae 
culpa  contristet ;  cum  et,  ruente  eo,  quosdam  bene  erigi 
credimus,  et  proficiente  illo  plerosque  injuste  opprimi 
formidamus."  (Lib.  xxii.,  Moral.,  cap.  ii.)  But,  except 
in  such  cases,  it  is  unlawful  to  rejoice  at  the  loss  of  a 
neighbour.  It  is  also  contrary  to  charity  to  feel  regret 
at  a  neighbour's  prosperity  merely  because  it  is  useful 
to  him.  This  is  precisely  the  sin  of  envy.  The  envious 


CHARITY   TO    OtJR   NEIGHBOUR.  221 

are,  according  to  the  Wise  Man,  on  the  side  of  the 
devil,  who,  because  he  could  not  bear  to  see  men  in 
heaven,  from  which  he  had  been  banished,  tempted 
Adam  to  rebel  against  God.  "  But  by  the  envy  of  the 
devil  death  came  into  the  world ;  and  they  follow  him 
that  are  of  his  side."  (Wis.  ii.  25.)  Let  us  pass  to  the 
next  point. 

Second  Point.     On  the  charity  which  we  ought  to 
practise  towards  our  neighbour  in  words. 

4.  With  regard  to  the  practice  of  fraternal  charity 
in  words,  we  ought,  in  the  first  place,  and  above  all,  to 
abstain  from  all  detraction.  "  The  tale-bearer  shall 
defile  his  own  soul,  and  shall  be  hated  by  all."  (Eccl. 
xxi.  31.)  As  they  who  always  speak  well  of  others  are 
loved  by  all,  so  he  who  detracts  his  neighbour  is  hateful 
to  all — to  God — and  to  men,  who,  although  they  take 
delight  in  listening  to  detraction,  hate  the  detractor,  and 
are  on  their  guard  against  him.  St.  Bernard  says  that 
the  tongue  of  a  detractor  is  a  three-edged  sword. 
"  Gladius  equidem  anceps,  immo  triplex  est  lingua  de- 
tractoris"  (in  Ps.  Ivi).  With  one  of  these  edges  it 
destroys  the  reputation  of  a  neighbour ;  ^  with  the 
second  it  wounds  the  souls  of  those  who  listen  to  the 
detraction ;  and  with  the  third  it  kills  the  soul  of  the 
detractor  by  depriving  him  of  the  divine  grace.  You 
will  say  :  "  I  have  spoken  of  my  neighbour  only  in  secret 
to  my  friends,  and  have  made  them  promise  not  to  men 
tion  to  others  what  I  told  them."  This  excuse  will  not 
stand  :  no  ;  you  are,  as  the  Lord  says,  the  serpent  that 
bites  in  silence.  "  If  a  serpent  bite  in  silence,  he  is 
nothing  better  that  backbiteth  secretly."  (Eccl.  x.  11.) 
Your  secret  defamation  bites  and  destroys  the  character 
of  a  neighbour.  They  who  indulge  in  the  vice  of  de 
traction  are  chastised  not  only  in  the  next,  but  also  in. 
this  life,  because  their  uncharitable  tongues  are  the 
cause  of  a  thousand  sins,  by  creating  discord  in  whole 
families  and  entire  villages.  Thomas  Cantaprensis 
(Apum,  etc.,  cap.  xxxvii.)  relates,  that  he  knew  a  certain 
detractor,  who  at  the  end  of  life  became  raging  mad, 
and  died  lacerating  his  tongue  with  his  teeth.  The 
tongue  of  another  detractor,  who  was  going  to  speak 


222 


SERMON   XXX. 


ill  of  St.  Malachy,  instantly  swelled  and  was  filled  with 
worms.  And,  after  seven  days,  the  unhappy  man  died 
miserably. 

5.  Detraction  is  committed  not  only  when  we  take 
away  a  neighbour's  character,  by  imputing  to  him  a  sin 
which  he  has  not  committed,  or  exaggerating  his  guilt, 
but  also  when  we  make  known  to  others  any  of  his 
secret  sins.     Some  persons,  when  they  know   anythin" 
injurious  to  a  neighbour,  appear  to  suffer,  as  it  were,  the 
pams^of  childbirth,  until  they  tell  it  toothers.     Wlien 
the  sin  ^of  a  neighbour  is  secret  and  grievous,  it  is  a 
mortal  sin  to  mention  it  to  others  without  a  just  cause. 
I  say,  "without  a  just  cause ;"  for,  to  make  known  to  a 
parent  the  fault  of  a  child,  that  he  may  correct  him  and 
prevent  a  repetition  of  the  fault,  is  not  sinful,  but  is  an 
act  of  virtue ;  for  according  to  St.  Thomas  (2,  2,  qu.  2, 
art.  73),  to  let  others  know  the  sins  of  a  neighbour  is 
unlawful,  when  it  is  done  to  destroy  his  reputation,  but 
not  when  it  is  done  for  his  good,  or  for  the  good  of 
others. 

6.  They  who  listen  to  detraction,  and  afterwards  go 
and  tell  what  was  said  to  the  person  whose  character 
had  been   injured,   have  to  render  a  great  account  to 

These  are  called  talebearers.  Oh!  how  great 
is  the  evil  produced  by  these  talebearing  tongues  that 
are  thus  employed  in  sowing  discord.  They  are  objects 

of  God's ^ hatred.      "The   Lord  hateth him   that 

soweth  discord  among  brethren."  (Prov.  vi.  16,  19.) 
Should  the  person  who  has  been  defamed  speak  of  his 
defamer,  the  injury  which  he  has  received  may,  perhaps, 
give  him  some  claim  to  compassion.  But  why  should 
you  relate  what  you  have  heard  ?  Is  it  to  create  ill-will 
and  hatred  that  shall  be  the  cause  of  a  thousand  sins  ? 
If,  from  this  day  forward,  you  ever  hear  anything  in 
jurious  to  a  neighbour,  follow  the  advice  of  the  Holy 
Ghost.  "  Hast  thou  heard  a  word  against  thy  neigh 
bour  ?  let  it  die  with  thee."  (Eccl.  xix.  10.)  You  should 
not  only  keep  it  shut  up  in  your  heart,  but  you  must  let 
it  die  within  you.  He  that  is  only  shut  up  may  escape 
and  be  seen;  but  he  that  is  dead  cannot  leave  the 
grave.  When,  then,  you  know  anything  injurious  to 
your  neighbour,  you  ought  to  be  careful  not  to  give 


CHARITY   TO    OUR   NEIGHBOUR.  223 

any  intimation  of  it  to  others  by  words,  by  motions  of 
the  head,  or  by  any  other  sign.  Sometimes  greater  in 
jury  is  done  to  others  by  certain  singular  signs  and 
broken  words  than  by  a  full  statement  of  their  guilt ; 
because  these  hints  make  persons  suspect  that  the  evil  is 
greater  than  it  really  is. 

7.  In  your  conversations  be  careful  not  to  give  pain  to 
any  companion,  either  present  or  absent,  by  turning  him 
into  ridicule.  You  may  say:  "I  do  it  through  jest;" 
but  such  jests  are  contrary  to  charity.  "  All  things, 
therefore,"  says  Jesus  Christ,  "  that  you  will  that  men 
should  do  to  you,  do  you  also  unto  them."  (Matt.  vii.  12.) 
W  ould  you  like  to  be  treated  with  derision  before  others  ? 
Give  up,  then,  the  practice  of  ridiculing  your  neighbours. 
Abstain  also  from  contending  about  useless  trifles.  Some 
times,  certain  contests  about  mere  trifles  grow  so  warm 
that  they  end  in  quarrels  and  injurious  words.  Some 
persons  are  so  full  of  the  spirit  of  contradiction,  that 
they  controvert  what  others  say,  without  any  necessity, 
and  solely  for  the  sake  of  contention,  and  thus  violate 
charity.  "  Strive  not,"  says  the  Holy  Ghost,  "  in 
matters  which  do  not  concern  thee."  (Eccl.  xi.  9.)  But 
they  will  say  :  "  I  only  defend  reason ;  I  cannot  bear 
these  assertions  which  are  contrary  to  reason."  In 
answer  to  these  defenders  of  reason,  Cardinal  Bellar- 
mine  says,  that  an  ounce  of  charity  is  better  than  an 
hundred  loads  of  reason.  In  conversation,  particularly 
when  the  subject  of  it  is  unimportant,  state  your  opinion, 
if  you  wish  to  take  part  in  the  discourse,  and  then  keep 
yourself  in  peace,  and  be  on  your  guard  against  obsti 
nacy  in  defending  your  own  opinion.  In  such  contests 
it  is  always  better  to  yield.  B.  Egidius  used  to  say, 
that  he  who  gives  up  conquers ;  because  he  is  superior 
in  virtue,  and  preserves  peace,  which  is  far  more  valu 
able  than  a  victory  in  such  contests.  St.  Joseph  Cala- 
sanctius  was  accustomed  to  say,  that  "he  who  loves 
peace  never  contradicts  any  one." 

8.  Thus,  dearly  beloved  brethren,  if  you  wish  to  be 
loved  by  God  and  by  men,  endeavour  always  to  speak 
well  of  all.  And,  should  you  happen  to  hear  a  person 
speak  ill  of  a  neighbour,  be  careful  not  to  encourage 
his  uncharitableness,  nor  to  show  any  curiosity  to  hear 


224  SERMON  XXX. 


the  faults  of  others.  If  you  do,  you  will  be  guilty  of 
the  same  sin  which  the  detractor  commits.  "  Hedge  in 
thy  ears  with  thorns,"  says  Ecclesiasticus,  "  and  hear 
not  a  wicked  tongue."  (Eccl.  xxviii.  28.)  When  you  hear 
any  one  taking  away  the  character  of  another,  place 
around  your  ears  a  hedge  of  thorns,  that  detraction  may 
not  enter.  For  this  purpose  it  is  necessary,  at  least,  to 
show  that  the  discourse  is  not  pleasing  to  you.  This 
may  be  done  by  remaining  silent,  by  putting  on  a 
sorrowful  countenance,  by  casting  down  the  eyes,  or 
turning  your  face  in  another  direction.  In  a  word,  act, 
says  St.  Jerome,  in  such  a  way  that  the  detractor,  seeing 
your  unwillingness  to  listen  to  him,  may  learn  to  be 
more  guarded  for  the  future  against  the  sin  of  detraction. 
"  Discat  detractor,  dum  te  videt  non  libenter  audire, 
non  facile  detrahere."  (S.  Hier.  ep.  ad  Nepot.)  And 
when  it  is  in  your  power  to  do  it,  it  will  be  a  great  act 
of  charity  to  defend  the  character  of  the  persons  who 
have  been  defamed.  The  Divine  Spouse  wishes  that  the 
words  of  his  beloved  be  a  veil  of  scarlet.  "  Thy  lips  are 
as  a  scarlet  lace."  (Cant.  iv.  3.)  That  is,  as  Theodoret 
explains  this  passage,  her  words  should  be  dictated  by 
charity  (a  scarlet  lace),  that  they  may  cover,  as  much 
as  possible,  the  defects  of  others,  at  least  by  excusing 
their  intentions,  when  their  acts  cannot  be  excused. 
"  If,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  you  cannot  excuse  the  act, 
excuse  the  intention/'  (Scrm.  xl.  in  Cant.)  It  was  a 
proverb  among  the  nuns  of  the  convent  of  St.  Teresa, 
that,  in  the  presence  of  their  holy  mother,  their  reputa 
tion  was  secure,  because  they  knew  she  would  take  the 
part  of  those  of  whom  any  fault  might  be  mentioned. 

9.  Charity  also  requires  that  we  be  meek  to  all,  and 
particularly  to  those  who  are  opposed  to  us.  When  a 
person  is  angry  with  you,  and  uses  injurious  language, 
remember  that  a  "  mild  answer  breaketh  wrath."  (Prov. 
xv.  1.)  Reply  to  him  with  meekness,  and  you  shall  find 
that  his  anger  will  be  instantly  appeased.  But,  if  you 
resent  the  injury,  and  use  harsh  language,  you  will 
increase  the  name ;  the  feeling  of  revenge  will  grow 
more  violent,  and  you  will  expose  yourself  to  the 
danger  of  losing  your  soul  by  yielding  to  an  act  of 
hatred,  or  by  breaking  out  into  expressions  grievously 


CHARITY   TO   OUR   NEIGHBOUR.  225 

injurious  to  your  neighbour.  Whenever  you  feel  the 
soul  agitated  by  passion,  it  is  better  to  force  yourself  to 
remain  silent,  and  to  make  no  reply  ;  for,  as  St.  Bernard 
says,  an  eye  clouded  with  anger  cannot  distinguish 
between  right  and  wrong.  "  Turbatus  praD  ira  oculus 
rectum  non  videt."  (Lib.  2  de  Consid.,  cap.  xi.)  Should 
it  happen  that  in  a  fit  of  passion  you  have  insulted  a 
neighbour,  charity  requires  that  you  use  every  means  to 
allay  his  wounded  feelings,  and  to  remove  from  his  heart 
all  sentiments  of  rancour  towards  you.  The  best  means 
of  making  reparation  for  the  violation  of  charity  is  to 
humble  yourself  to  the  person  whom  you  have  offended. 
With  regard  to  the  meekness  which  we  should  practise 
towards  others,  I  shall  speak  on  that  subject  in  the 
thirty-fourth  Sermon,  or  the  Sermon  for  the  fifth  Sunday 
after  Pentecost. 

10.  It  is  also  an  act  of  charity  to  correct  sinners. 
Do  not  say  that  you  are  not  a  superior.      Were  you  a 
superior,  you  should  be  obliged  by  your  office  to  correct 
all  those  who  might  be  under  your  care  ;  but,  although 
you  are  not  placed  over  others,  you  are,  as  a  Christian, 
obliged  to  fulfil  the  duty  of  fraternal  correction.     "  lie 
gave  to  every  one  of  them  commandment  concerning  his 
neighbour."  (Eccl.   xvii.   12.)     Would  it  not  be  great 
cruelty  to  see  a  blind  man  walking  on  the  brink  of  a 
precipice,  and  not  admonish  him  of  his  danger,  in  order 
to  preserve  him  from  temporal  death  ?     It  would  be  far 
greater  cruelty  to  neglect,  for  the  sake  of  avoiding  a 
little  trouble,  to  deliver  a  brother  from  eternal  death. 

Third  Point.     On  the  charity  we  ought  to  practise 
towards  our  neighbour  by  works. 

11.  Some  say  that  they  love  all,  but  will  not  put 
themselves  to  any  inconvenience  in  order  to  relieve  the 
wants  of  a  neighbour.     "  My  little  children,"  says  Sfc. 
John,  "  let  us  not  love  in  word,  nor  in  tongue,  but  in 
deed  and  truth."  (1  John  iii.  18  )     The  Scripture  tells 
us  that  alms  deliver  men  from  death,  cleanse  them  from 
sin,  and  obtain  for  them  the  divine  mercy  and  eternal 
life.     "  Alms  delivereth  from  death,  and  the  same  is  that 
which  purgeth  away  sins,  and  maketh  to  find  mercy  and 
life  everlasting."  (Job  xii.  9.)     God  will  relieve  you  in 

p 


226  SERMON  xxx. 


the  same  manner  in  which,  you  give  relief  to  your  neigh 
bour.  "  With  what  measure  you  shall  mete,  it  shall  be 
measured  to  you  again.'*  (Matt.  vii.  2.)  Hence  St.  Chry- 
sostom  says,  that  the  exercise  of  charity  to  others  is  the 
means  of  acquiring  great  gain  with  God.  "  Alms  is,  of 
all  acts,  the  most  lucrative."  And  St.  Mary  Magdalene 
do  Pazzi  used  to  say,  that  she  felt  more  happy  in  reliev 
ing  her  neighbour  than  when  she  was  wrapt  up  in 
contemplation.  "Because/'  she  would  add^'whcn  I 
am  in  contemplation  God  assists  me  ;  but  in  giving  relief 
to  a  neighbour  I  assist  God  ;"  for,  every  act  of  charity 
which  we  exercise  towards  our  neighbour,  God  accepts 
as  if  it  were  done  to  himself.  But,  on  the  other  hand, 
how,  as  St.  John  says,  can  he  who  does  not  assist  a 
brother  in  want,  be  said  to  love  God  ?  "  He  that  hath 
the  substance  of  this  world,  and  shall  see  his  brother  in 
need,  and  shall  shut  up  his  bowels  from  him,  how  doth 
the  charity  of  God  abide  in  him  ?"  (1  John  iii.  17.)  By 
alms  is  understood,  not  only  the  distribution  of  money 
or  other  goods,  but  every  succour  that  is  given  to  a  neigh 
bour  in  order  to  relieve  his  wants. 

12.  If  charity  obliges  us  to  assist  all,  it  commands  us 
still  more  strictly  to  relieve  those  who  are  in  tbe  greatest 
need  ;   such  as  the  souls  in  Purgatory.      St.   Thomas 
teaches,  that  charity  extends  not  only  to  the  living,  but 
also  to  the  dead.     Hence,  as  we  ought  to  assist  our 
neighbours  who  are  in  this  life,  so  we  are  bound  to  give 
relief  to  those  holy  prisoners  who  are  so  severely  tor 
mented   by   fire,   and   who   are   incapable  of  ^relieving 
themselves.     A  deceased  monk  of  the  Cistercian  order 
appeared  to  the  sacristan  of  his  monastery,  and  said  to 
him  :  "  Brother,  assist  me  by  your  prayers  ;  for  I  can  do 
nothing  for  myself."  (Cron.  Cist.)     Let  us,  then,  assist, 
to  the  utmost  of  our  power,  these  beloved  spouses  of 
Jesus  Christ,  by  recommending  them  every  day  to  God, 
and  by  sometimes  getting  Mass  offered  for  their  repose. 
There  is  nothing  which  gives  so  much  relief  to  those 
holy  souls  as  the  sacrifice  of  the  altar.     They  certainly 
will  not  be  ungrateful ;  they  will  in  return  pray  for  you, 
and  will  obtain  for  you  still  greater  graces,  when  they 
shall  have  entered  into  the  kingdom  of  God. 

13.  To  exercise  a  special  charity  towards  the  sick,  is 


CHARITY   TO    OUR   NEIGHBOUR.  227 

also  very  pleasing  to  God.  They  are  afflicted  by  pains, 
by  melancholy,  by  the  fear  of  death,  and  are  sometimes 
abandoned  by  others.  Be  careful  to  relieve  them  by 
alms,  or  by  little  presents,  and  to  serve  them  as  well  as 
you  can,  at  least  by  endeavouring  to  console  them  by 
your  words,  and  by  exhortations  to  practise  resignation 
to  the  will  of  God,  and  to  offer  to  him  all  their  suffer 
ings. 

14.  Above  all,  be  careful  to  practise  charity  to  those 
who  are  opposed  to  you.     Some  say  :  I  am  grateful  to 
all  who  treat  me  with  kindness  ;  but  I  cannot  exercise 
charity  towards  those  who  persecute  me.     Jesus  Christ 
says  that  even  pagans  know  how  to  be  grateful  to  those 
who  do  them  a  service.     "  Do  not  also  the  heathens 
this  ?"  (Matt.  v.  47.)    Christian  charity  consists  in  wish 
ing  well,  and  in  doing  good  to  those  who  hate  and  injure 
us.     "  But  I  say  to  you  :  Love  your  enemies  ;  do  good 
to  them  that  hate  you  ;  and  pray  for  them  that  persecute 
and  calumniate  you."   (Matt.   v.   44.)      Some  seek   to 
injure  you,  but  you  must  love  them.     Some  have  done 
-evil  to  you,  but  you  must  return  good  for  evil.     Such  the 
vengeance  of  the  saints.     This  is  the  heavenly  revenge 
which  St.  Paulinus  exhorts  us  to  inflict  on  our  enemies. 
:<  To  repay  good  for  evil  is  heavenly  revenge/'  (Epis. 
xvi.)      St.   Chrysostom  teaches,   that   there  is  nothing 
which  assimilates  us  so  much  to  God  as  the  granting  of 
pardon  to  enemies.     "  Nothing  makes  men  so  like  to 
God  as  to  spare  enemies."  (Horn,  xxvii.  in  Gen.)     Such 
has  been  the  practice  of  the  saints.     St.  Catherine  of 
Genoa  continued  for  a  long  time  to  relieve  a  woman  who 
had  endeavoured  to  destroy  the  saint's  reputation.     On. 
an  assassin,  who  had  made  an  attempt  on  his  life,  St. 
Ambrose  settled  a  sum  for  his  support.     Yenustanus, 
governor  of  Tuscany,  ordered  the  hands  of  St.  Sabinus 
to  be  cut  off,  because  the  holy  bishop  confessed  the  true 
faith.     The  tyrant,   feeling  a  violent  pain  in  his  eyes, 
entreated  the  saint  to  assist  him.     The  saint  prayed  for 
him,  and  raised  his  arm,  from  which  the  blood  still  con 
tinued  to  flow,  blessed  him,  and  obtained  for  him  the 
cure  of  his  eyes  and  of  his  soul ;  for  the  tyrant  became  a 
convert  to  the  faith.     Father  Segneri  relates,  that  the 
son  of  a  certain  lady  in  Bologna  was  murdered  by  aa 


228  SERMON    XXXI. 


assassin,  who  by  accident  took  refuge  in  her  house. 
(Christ.  Instr.,  part  1,  disc.  20,  n.  20.)  What  did  she 
do  ?  She  first  concealed  him  from  the  ministers  of  jus 
tice,  and  afterwards  said  to  him :  Since  I  have  lost  my 
son,  you  shall  henceforth  be  my  son  and  my  heir.  Take, 
for  the  present,  this  sum  of  money,  and  provide  for  your 
safety  elsewhere,  for  here  you  are  not  secure.  It  is  thus 
the  saints  resent  injuries.  With  what  face,  says  St. 
Cyril  of  Jerusalem,  can  he  that  does  not  pardon  the 
affronts  which  he  receives  from  his  enemies,  say  to  God : 
Lord,  pardon  me  the  many  insults  which  I  have  offered 
to  thee  ?  "  Qua  fronte  dices  Domino  :  remitte  mihi 
multa  peccata  mea,  si  tu  pauca  conserve  tuo  non 
remiseris?"  (Catech.  ii.)  But  he  that  forgives  his 
enemies  is  sure  of  the  pardon  of  the  Lord,  who  says : 
"  Forgive,  and  you  shall  be  forgiven."  (Luke  vi.  37.) 
And  when  you  cannot  serve  them  in  any  other  way, 
recommend  to  God  those  who  persecute  and  calumniate 
you.  "  Pray  for  them  that  persecute  and  calumniate 
you."  This  is  the  admonition  of  Jesus  Christ,  who  is 
able  to  reward  those  who  treat  their  enemies  in  this 
manner. 


SERMON  XXXI.— SECOND  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  holy  communion. 

"  A  certain  man  made  a  great  supper."— LUKE  xiv.  16. 

IN  the  gospel  of  this  day  we  read  that  a  rich  man  pre 
pared  a  great  supper.  He  then  ordered  one  of  his 
servants  to  invite  to  it  all  those  whom  he  should  find  in 
the  highways,  even  though  they  were  poor,  blind,  and 
lame,  and  to  compel  those  who  should  refuse,  to  come 
to  the  supper.  "  Go  out  into  the  highways  and  hedges, 
and  compel  them  to  come  in,  that  my  house  may  bo 
filled"  (v.  2o).  And  he  added,  that  of  all  those  who 
had  been  invited  and  had  not  come,  not  one  should 
ever  partake  of  his  supper.  "  But  I  say  unto  you,  that 
none  of  those  men  that  were  invited  shall  taste  of  my 


HOLY    COMMUNION.  229 

supper"  (v.  24).  This  supper  is  the  holy  communion ; 
it  is  a  great  supper,  at  which  all  the  faithful  are  invited 
to  eat  the  sacred  flesh  of  Jesus  Christ  in  the  most  holy 
sacrament  of  the  altar.  "  Take  ye  and  eat :  this  is  my 
body."  (Matt.  xxiv.  26.)  Let  us  then  consider  to-day, 
in  the  first  point,  the  great  love  which  Jesus  Christ  has 
shown  us  in  giving  us  himself  in  this  sacrament ;  and, 
in  the  second  point,  how  we  ought  to  receive  him  in 
order  to  draw  great  fruit  from  the  holy  communion. 

First  Point.     On  the  great  love  which  Jesus  Christ 
has  shown  us  in  giving  us  himself  in  this  sacrament. 

1.  "  Jesus,  knowing  that  his  hour  was  come  that  he 
should  pass  out  of  this  world  to  the  Father,  having 
loved  his  own  that  were  in  the  world,  he  loved  them 
unto  the  end/'  (John  xiii.  1.)     Knowing  that  the  hour 
of  his  death  had  arrived,  Jesus  Christ  wished,  before  his 
departure  from  this  world,  to  leave  us  the  greatest  proof 
which  he  could  give  of  his  love,  by  leaving  us  himself 
in  the  holy  eucharist.     "  He  loved  them  to  the  end." 
That  is,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  "  with  an  extreme 
love."     St.  Bernardino  of  Sienna  says  that  the  tokens  of 
love  which  are  given  at  death  make  a  more  lasting 
impression  on  the  mind,  and  are  more  highly  esteemed. 
"  Quai  in  fine  in  signum  amicitia)  celebrantur,  firmius 
memoria3  imprimuntur  et  cariora  tenentur."     But,  whilst 
others  leave  a  ring,  or  a  piece  of  money,  as  a  mark  of 
their  affection,  Jesus  has  left  us  himself  entirely  in  this 
sacrament  of  love. 

2.  And  when  did  Jesus  Christ  institute  this  sacra 
ment  ?     He  instituted  it,  as  the  Apostle  has  remarked, 
on  the  night  before  his  passion .     "  The  Lord  Jesus,  the 
same  night  on  which  he  was  betrayed,  took  bread,  and 
giving  thanks,  broke  and  said  :  "  Take  ye  and  eat :  this 
is  my  body."   (1  Cor.  xi.  23,  24.)     Thus,  at  the  very 
time  that  men  were  preparing  to  put  him  to  death,  our 
loving  Redeemer  resolved  to  bestow  upon  us  this  gift. 
Jesus  Christ,  then,  was  not  content  with  giving  his  life 
for  us  on  a  cross :  he  wished  also,  before  his  death,  to 
pour  out,  as  the  Council  of  Trent  says,  all  the  riches  of 
his  love,  by  leaving  himself  for  our  food  in  the  holy 
communion.     "  He,  as  it  were,  poured  out  the  riches  of 


230 


SERMON   XXXI. 


his  love  towards  man."  (Sess.  13,  cap.  ii.)  If  faith  had 
not  taught  it,  who  could  ever  imagine  that  a  God  would 
become  man,  and  afterwards  become  the  food  of  his  own 
creatures  ?  When  Jesus  Christ  revealed  to  his  followers 
this  sacrament  which  he  intended  to  leave  us,  St.  John 
says,  that  they  could  not  bring  themselves  to  believe  it, 
and  departed  from  him  saying:  "  How  can  this  man  give 
us  his  flesh  to  eat  ?...This  saying  is  hard,  and  who  can 
hear  it?''  (St.  John  vi.  53,  61.)  But  what  men  could 
not  imagine,  the  £reat  love  of  Jesus  Christ  has  invented 
and  effected.  "  Take  ye  and  eat :  this  is  my  body." 
These  words  he  addressed  to  his  apostles  on  the  night 
before  he  suffered,  and  he  now,  after  his  death,  addresses 
them  to  us. 

3.  How  highly  honoured,  says  St.  Francis  de  Sales, 
would  that  man  fed   to  whom  the  king  sent  from  his 
table  a  portion  of  what  he  had  on  his  own  plate  ?     But 
how  should  he  feel  if  that  portion  were  a  part  of  the 
king's  arm  ?     In  the  holy  communion  Jesus  gives  us, 
not  a  part  of  his  arm,  but  his  entire  body  in  the  sacra 
ment  of  the  altar.     "  lie  gave  you  all,"  says  St.  Chry- 
sostom,  reproving  our  ingratitude,  "  he  left  nothing  for 
himself/'     And  St.  Thomas  teaches,  that  in  the  cucha- 
rist  God  has  given  us  all  that  he  is  and  all  that  he  has. 
"Deus  in  eucharistia  totum  quod  est   et  habet,   dedit 
nobis."  (Opusc.  63,  c.  ii.)     Justly  then  has  the  same 
saint  called  the  eucharist  "  a  sacrament  of  love  ;  a  pledge 
of  love/'     "  Sacramentum  charitatis  pignus  charitatis." 
It  is  a  sacrament  of  love,  because  it  was  pure  love  that 
induced  Jesus  Christ  to  give  us  this  gift  and  pledge  of 
love  :  for  he  wished  that,  should  a  doubt  of  his  having 
loved  us  ever  enter  into  our  minds,  we  should  have  in 
this  sacrament  a  pledge  of  his  love.     St.  Bernard  calls 
this  sacrament  "  love  of  loves."    "  Amor  amorum."    By 
his    incarnation,    the   Lord  has   given    himself  to  all 
men  in  general ;  but,  in  this  sacrament,  he  has  given, 
himself  to  each  of  us  in  particular,  to  make  us  under 
stand  the  special  love   which   he   entertains   for   each 
of  us. 

4.  Oh!  how   ardently   does   Jesus   Christ   desire   to 
come  to  our  souls  in  the  holy  communion  !     This  vehe 
ment  desire  he  expressed  at  the  time  of  the  institution 


HOLY   COMMUNION.  231 

of  this  sacrament,  when  he  said  to  the  apostles  :  "  With 
desire  I  have  desired  to  eat  this  Pasch  with  you."  (Luke 
xxii.  15.)  St.  Laurence  Justinian  says  that  these  words 
proceeded  from  the  enamoured  heart  of  Jesus  Christ, 
who,  by  such  tender  expressions,  wished  to  show  us  the 
ardent  love  with  which  he  loved  us.  "  This  is  the  voice 
of  the  most  burning  charity.  "  Flagrantissimoo  charitatis 
est  vox  hcec."  And,  to  induce  us  to  receive  him  fre 
quently  in  the  holy  communion,  he  promises  eternal  life 
— that  is,  the  kingdom  of  heaven — to  those  who  eat  his 
flesh.  "  He  that  eateth  this  bread  shall  live  for  ever." 
(John  vi.  59.)  On  the  other  hand,  it  threatens  to 
deprive  us  of  his  grace  and  of  Paradise,  if  we  neglect 
communion.  "  Except  you  eat  the  flesh  of  the  Son  of 
Man,  and  drink  his  blood,  you  shall  not  have  life  in 
you."  (John  vi.  54.)  These  promises  and  these  threats 
all  sprung  from  a  burning  desire  to  come  to  us  in  this 
sacrament. 

5.  And  why  does  Jesus  Christ  so  vehemently  desire 
that  we  receive  him  in  the  holy  communion  ?  It  is 
because  he  takes  delight  in  being  united  with  each  of 
us.  By  the  communion,  Jesus  is  really  united  to  our 
soul  and  to  our  body,  and  we  are  united  to  Jesus.  "  He 
that  eateth  my  flesh  and  drinketh  my  blood,  abideth  in 
me  and  I  in  him."  (John  vi.  57.)  Thus,  after  com 
munion,  we  are,  says  St.  Chrysostom,  one  body  and  one 
flesh  with  Jesus  Christ.  "  Huic  nos  unimur,  et  facti 
summus  unum  corpus  ut  una  caro."  (Horn.  Ixviii.  ad 
Pop.  Ant.)  Hence  St.  Laurence  Justinian  exclaims  : 
"  Oh !  how  wonderful  is  thy  love,  O  Lord  Jesus,  who 
hast  wished  to  incorporate  us  in  such  a  manner  with  thy 
body,  that  we  should  have  one  heart  and  one  soul 
inseparably  united  with  thee."  Thus,  to  every  soul  that 
receives  the  eucharist,  the  Lord  says  what  he  once  said 
to  his  beloved  servant  Margaret  of  Ipres — "  Behold,  my 
daughter,  the  close  union  made  between  me  and  thee  ; 
love  me,  then,  and  let  us  remain  for  ever  united  in  love: 
let  us  never  more  be  separated."  This  union  between 
us  and  Jesus  Christ  is,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  the 
effect  of  the  love  which  Jesus  Christ  bears  us.  "  Seme- 

tipsum  nobis  immiscuit,  ut  unum  quid  simus arden- 

tur  enim  amantium  hoc  est.)?  (Horn.  Ixi.)     But,  0  Lord,. 


232 


SERMON   XXXI. 


such  intimate  union  with  man  is  not  suited  to  thy  divine 
majesty.  But  love  seeks  not  reason  ;  it  goes  not  where 
it  ought  to  go,  but  where  it  is  drawn.  "  Amor  ratione 
caret,  et  vadit  quo  dicitur,  non  quo  debeat."  (Serm.  cxliii.) 
St.  Bernardino  of  Sienna  says  that,  in  giving  himself 
for  our  food,  Jesus  Christ  loved  us  to  the  last  degree  ; 
because  he  united  himself  entirely  to  us,  as  food  is  united 
to  those  who  eat  it.  "  ITltimus  gradus  amoris  est,  cum. 
se  dedit  nobis  in  cibum  quia  dedit  se  nobis  ad  omnimodam 
unionem,  sicut  cibus  et  cibans,  invicem  uniuntur."  (Tom. 
2,  Serm.  Hv.)  The  same  doctrine  has  been  beautifully 
expressed  by  St.  Francis  de  Sales.  "  No  action  of  the 
Saviour  can  be  more  loving  or  more  tender  than  the 
institution  of  the  holy  cucharist,  in  which  he,  as  it  were, 
annihilates  himself,  and  takes  the  form  of  food,  to 
unite  himself  to  the  souls  and  bodies  of  his  faithful 
servants." 

G.  Hence,  there  is  nothing  from  which  we  can  draw 
so  much  fruit  as  from  the  holy  communion.  St.  Denis 
teaches,  that  the  most  holy  sacrament  has  greater  effi 
cacy  to  sanctify  souls  than  all  other  spiritual  means. 
"  Eucharistia  maxim  am  vim  habet  perficiendrc  sancti- 
tatis."  St.  Vincent  Ferrer  says,  that  a  soul  derives 
more  profit  from  one  communion  than  from  fasting  a 
week  on  bread  and  water.  The  eucharist  is,  according 
to  the  holy  Council  of  Trent,  a  medicine  which  delivers 
us  from  venial,  and  preserves  us  from  mortal  sins. 
'*  Antidotum  quo  a  culpis  quotidianis  liberemur,  et  a 
rnortalibus  prrcservcmur."  Jesus  himself  has  said,  that 
they  who  eat  him,  who  is  the  fountain  of  life,  shall 
receive  permanently  the  life  of  grace.  "  lie  that  eateth 
me,  the  same  shall  also  live  by  me."  (John  vi.  58.) 
Innocent  the  Third  teaches,  that  by  the  passion  Jesus 
Christ  delivers  us  from  the  sins  we  have  committed, 
and  by  the  eucharist  from  the  sins  we  may  commit. 
According  to  St.  Chrysostom,  the  holy  communion 
inflames  us  with  the  fire  of  divine  love,  and  makes  us 
objects  of  terror  to  the  devil.  "  The  eucharist  is  a  fire 
which  inflames  us,  that,  like  lions  breathing  fire,  we  may 
retire  from  the  altar,  being  made  terrible  to  the  devil." 
(Horn.  Ixi.  ad  Pop.  Ant.)  In  explaining  the  words  of 
the  Spouse  of  the  Canticles,  "  He  brought  me  into  the 


HOLY   COMMUNION.  233 


cellar  of  wine;  lie  set  in  order  charity  in  me"  (ii.  4.) 
St.  Gregory  says,  that  the  communion  is  this  cellar  of 
wine,  in  which  the  soul  is  so  inebriated  with  divine  love, 
that  she  forgets  and  loses  sight  of  all  earthly  things. 

7.  Some  will  say :  "  I  do  not  communicate  often ;  because 
I  am  cold  in  divine  love."     In  answer  to  them  Gerson 
asks,  Will  you  then,  because  you  feel  cold,  remove  from 
the  fire  ?     When  you   are  tepid  you  should  more  fre 
quently  approach  this  sacrament.     St.  Bonaventure  says : 
"  Trusting  in  the  mercy  of  God,  though  you  feel  tepid, 
approach  :  let  him  who  thinks  himself  unworthy  reflect, 
that  the  more  infirm  he  feels  himself  the  more  he  requires 
a  physician"    (de  Prof.   Eel.,   cap.   Ixxviii).      And,   in 
"  The  Devout  Life,"  chapter  xx.,  St.  Francis  de  Sales 
writes :  "  Two  sorts  of  persons  ought  to   communicate 
often :  the  perfect,  to  preserve  perfection  ;  and  the  im 
perfect,  to  arrive  at  perfection."     It  cannot  be  doubted, 
that  he  who   wishes   to   communicate   should   prepare 
himself  with  great  diligence,  that  he  may  communicate 
well.     Let  us  pass  to  the  second  point. 

Second  Point.     On  the  preparation  we  ought  to  make 
in  order  to  derive  great  fruit  from  the  holy  communion. 

8.  Two  things  are  necessary  in  order  to  draw  great 
fruit  from    communion — preparation   for,    and   thanks 
giving  after  communion.     As  to  the  preparation,  it  is 
certain  that  the  saints  derived  great  profit  from  their 
communions,  only  because  they  were  careful  to  prepare 
themselves  well  for  receiving  the  holy  eucharist.     It  is 
easy  then   to   understand  why  so   many    souls   remain 
subject  to  the  same  imperfections,  after  all  their  com 
munions.     Cardinal  Bona  says,  that  the  defect  is  not  in 
the  food,  but  in  the  want  of  preparation  for  it.    "  Defec- 
tus  non  in  bibo  est,  sed  in  edentis  dispositione."     For 
frequent  communion  two  principal  dispositions  are  neces 
sary.     The  first  is  detachment  from  creatures,  and  dis 
engagement  of  the  heart  from  everything  that  is  not 
God.      The  more  the  heart  is   occupied  with   earthly 
concerns,   the  less  room  there  is  in  it  for  divine  love. 
Hence,   to  give  full  possession  of  the   whole  heart  to 
God,  it  is  necessary  to  purify  it  from  worldly  attach 
ments.      This  is  the  preparation  which  Jesus  himself 


234  SERMON    XXXI. 


recommends  to  St.  Gertrude.  "  I  ask  nothing  more  of 
thee,"  said  he  to  her,  "  than  that  thou  come  to  receive 
me  with  a  heart  divested  of  thyself."  Let  us,  then, 
withdraw  our  affections  from  creatures,  and  our  hearts 
shall  belong  entirely  to  the  Creator. 

9.  The  second  disposition   necessary  to   draw   great 
fruit   from   communion,  is  a  desire  of  receiving  Jesus 
Christ  in  order  to  advance  in  his  love.     "  He,"  says  St. 
Francis  de  Sales,   "  who  gives   himself  through   pure 
love,   ought  to  be  received  only  through  love."     Thus, 
the  principal  end  of  our  communions  must  be  to  advance 
in  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ.     He  once  said  to  St.  Matilda: 
*'  When  you  communicate,  desire  all  the  love  that  any 
soul  has  ever  had  for  me,  and  I  will  accept  your  love 
in  proportion  to  the  fervour  with  which  you  wished  for 
it." 

10.  Thanksgiving  after  communion  is  also  necessary. 
The  prayer  we   make   after   communion   is   the   most 
acceptable  to  God,  and  the  most  profitable  to  us.     After 
communion  the  soul  should  be  employed  in  affections 
and  petitions.     The  affections  ought  to  consist  not  only 
in  acts  of  thanksgiving,  but  also  in  acts  of  humility,  of 
love,  and  of  oblation  of  ourselves  to  God.     Let  us  then 
humble  ourselves  as  much  as  possible  at  the  sight  of  a 
God  made  our  food  after  we  had  offended  him.      A 
learned  author  says  that,  for  a  soul  after  communion, 
the  most  appropriate  sentiment  is  one  of  astonishment 
at  the  thought  of  receiving  a  God.     She  should  ex 
claim  :  "  What !  a  God  to  me  !  a  God  to  me  !"    Let  us 
also  make  many  acts  of  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ.     lie 
has  come  into  our  souls  in  order  to  be  loved.     Hence,, 
he  is  greatly  pleased  with  those  who,  after  communion, 
say  to  him:  "My  Jesus,  I  love  thee  ;  I  desire  nothing 
but  thee."     Let  us  also  offer  ourselves  and  all  that  we 
have  to  Jesus  Christ,  that  he  may  dispose  of  all  as  he 
pleases:  and  let  us  frequently  say:  "  My  Jesus,  thou  art 
all  mine  ;  thou  hast  given  thyself  entirely  to  me  ;  I  give 
myself  entirely  to  thee. 

11.  After  communion;  we  should  not  only  make  these 
affections,  but  we   ought  also  to  present  to  God  with 
great  confidence  many  petitions  for  his  graces.      The 
time  after  communion  is  a  time  in  which  we  can  gain 


MEECY    OF    GOD   TOWARDS    SINNERS.  235 

treasures  of  divine  graces.  St.  Teresa  says,  that  at 
that  time  Jesus  Christ  remains  in  the  soul  as  on  a  throne, 
saying  to  her  what  he  said  to  the  blind  man  :  "  What 
wilt  thou  that  I  should  do  to  thee  ?"  (Mark  x.  51.)  As 
if  he  said:  "  But  me  you  have  not  always."  (John  xii. 
8.)  Now  that  you  possess  me  within  you,  ask  me  for 
graces  :  I  have  come  down  from  heaven  on  purpose  to 
dispense  them  to  you  ;  ask  whatever  you  wish,  and  you 
shall  obtain  it.  Oh  !  what  great  graces  are  lost  by  those 
who  spend  but  little  time  in  prayer  after  communion. 
Let  us  also  turn  to  the  Eternal  Father,  and,  bearing  in 
mind  the  promise  of  Jesus  Christ — "  Amen,  amen,  I  say 
to  you,  if  you  ask  the  Father  anything  in  my  name,  he 
will  give  it  you"  (John  xvi.  23) — let  us  say  to  him  : 
My  God,  for  the  love  of  this  thy  Son,  whom  I  have 
within  my  heart,  give  me  thy  love  ;  make  me  all  thine. 
And  if  we  offer  this  prayer  with  confidence,  the  Lord 
will  certainly  hear  us.  He  who  acts  thus  may  become 
a  saint  by  a  single  communion. 


SERMON  XXXII.— THIRD  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  mercy  of  God  towards  sinners. 

"  There  shall  be  joy  in  heaven  upon  one  sinner  that  doth  penance, 
more  than  ninety -nine  just,  who  need  not  penance." — LUKE  xv.  7- 

In  this  day's  gospel  it  is  related  that  the  Pharisees 
murmured  against  Jesus  Christ,  because  he  received 
sinners  and  eat  with  them.  "  This  man  receiveth  sin 
ners  and  eateth  with  them"  (v.  2).  In  answer  to  their 
murmurings  our  Lord  said  :  If  any  of  you  had  a  hun 
dred  sheep,  and  lost  one  of  them,  would  he  not  leave 
the  ninety-nine  in  the  desert,  and  go  in  search  of  the 
lost  sheep  ?  would  he  not  continue  his  search  until  he 
found  it  ?  and  having  found  it,  would  he  not  carry  it 
on  his  shoulders,  and,  rejoicing,  say  to  his  friends  and 
neighbours :  "  Rejoice  with  me,  because  I  have  found 
my  sheep  that  was  lost  ?"  (v.  6.)  In  conclusion,  the 
Son  of  God  said  :  "  I  say  to  you,  there  shall  be  joy  in 


236  SERMON    XXXII. 


heaven  upon  one  sinner  that  doth  penance,  more  than, 
upon  ninety-nine  just,  that  need  not  penance."  There 
is  more  joy  in  heaven  upon  one  sinner  who  returns  to 
God,  than  upon  many  just  who  preserve  the  grace  of 
God.  Let  us,  then,  speak  to-day  on  the  mercy  which 
God  shows  to  sinners,  first,  in  calling  them  to  repent 
ance  ;  secondly,  in  receiving  them  when  they  return. 

First  Point,  Mercy  of  God  in  calling  sinners  to 
repentance. 

1.  After  having  sinned  hy  eating  the  forbidden  apple, 
Adam  fled  from  the  face  of  the  Lord  through  shame  of 
the  sin  he  had  committed.  What  must  have  been  the 
astonishment  of  the  angels  when  they  saw  God  seeking 
after  him,  and  calling  him  as  it  were  with  tears,  saying : 
"  Adam,  where  art  thou  ?"  (Gen.  iii.  9.)  My  beloved 
Adam,  where  art  thou?  These  words,  says  Father 
Pereyra,  in  his  commentary  on  this  passage,  "  are  the 
words  of  a  father  in  search  of  his  lost  sou."  Towards 
you,  brethren,  the  Lord  acts  in  a  similar  manner.  You 
fled  from  him  and  he  has  so  often  invited  you  to  repent 
ance  by  means  of  confessors  and  preachers.  Who  was 
it  that  spoke  to  you  when  they  exhorted  you  to  penance  ? 
It  was  the  Lord.  Preachers  are,  as  St.  Paul  says,  his 
ambassadors.  "  For  Christ,  therefore,  we  are  ambassa 
dors  ;  God,  as  it  were,  exhorting  by  us."  (2  Cor.  v.  20.) 
Hence  he  writes  to  the  sinners  of  Corinth  :  "  For  Christ, 
we  beseech  you,  be  reconciled  to  God."  (Ibid.)  In 
explaining  these  words  St.  Chrysostom  says  :  "  Ipse 
Chris tus  vos  obsecrat :  quid  autem  obsecrat  ?  Recon- 
ciliamini  Deo."  Then,  says  the  holy  doctor,  Jesus 
Christ  himself  entreats  you,  0  sinners  :  and  what  does 
he  entreat  you  to  do  ?  To  make  peace  with  God.  The 
saint  adds  :  "  Non  enim  ipse  inimicus  gerit,  sed  vos." 
It  is  not  God  that  acts  like  an  enemy,  but  you  ;  that  is, 
God  does  not  refuse  to  make  peace  with  sinners,  but 
they  are  unwilling  to  be  reconciled  with  him." 

'I.  But  notwithstanding  the  refusal  of  sinners  to 
return  to  God,  he  does  not  cease  to  continue  to  call 
them  by  so  many  interior  inspirations,  remorses  of  con 
science,  and  terrors  of  chastisements.  Thus,  beloved 
Christians,  God  has  spoken  to  you,  and,  seeing  that  you 


I 


MERCY   OF    GOD   TOWARDS   SINNERS.  237 

disregarded  his  words,  he  has  had  recourse  to  scourges  ; 
he  has  called  you  to  repentance  by  such  a  persecution, 
by  temporal  losses,  by  the  death  of  a  relative,  by  sick 
ness  which  has  brought  you  to  the  brink  of  the  grave. 
He  has,  according  to  holy  David,  placed  before  your  eyes 
the  bow  of  your  damnation,  not  that  you  might  be  con 
demned  to  eternal  misery,  but  that  you  might  be  deli 
vered  from  hell,  which  you  deserved.  "  Thou  hast  given 
a  warning  to  them  that  fear  thee,  that  they  may  flee 
from  before  the  bow,  that  thy  beloved  may  be  delivered." 
(Ps.  lix.  6).  You  regarded  certain  afflictions  as  misfor 
tunes  ;  but  they  were  mercies  from  God  ;  they  were  the 
voices  of  God  calling  on  you  to  renounce  sin,  that  you 
might  escape  perdition.  "  My  jaws  are  become  hoarse." 
(Ps.  Ixviii.  4.)  My  son,  says  the  Lord,  I  have  almost 
lost  my  voice  in  calling  you  to  repentance.  "  I  am 
weary  of  entreating  thee."  ( Jer.  xv.  (5.)  I  have  become 
weary  in  imploring  you  to  offend  me  no  more. 

3.  By  your  ingratitude  you  deserved  that  he  should 
call  you  no  more  ;  but  he  has  continued  to  invite  you 
to  return  to  him.     And  who  is  it  that  has  called  you  ? 
It  is  a  God  of  infinite  majesty,  who  is  to  be  one  day  your 
•jud^e,  and  on  whom  your  eternal  happiness  or  misery 
depends.     And  what  are  you  but  miserable  worms  de 
serving  hell  ?     Why  has  he  called  you  ?     To  restore  to 
you  the  life  of  grace  which  you  have  lost.     "  Return  ye 
and  live."  (Ezec.  xviii.  32.)     To  acquire  the  grace  of 
God,  it  would  be  but  little  to  spend  a  hundred  years  in 
a  desert  in  fasting  and  penitential  austerities.     But  God 
offered  it  to  you  for  a  single  act  of  sorrow  ;  you  refused 
that  act,  and  after  your  refusal  he  has  not  abandoned 
you,  but  has  sought  after  you,  saying  :  "^And  why  will 
you  die,  0  house  of  Israel?"  (Ez.  xviii.  31.)     Like  a 
father  weeping  and  following  his  son,  who  has  voluntarily 
thrown  himself  into  the  sea,  God  has  sought  after  you, 
saying,  through  compassion  to  each  of  you  :  My  son,  why 
dost  thou  bring  thyself  to  eternal  misery  ?     "  Why  will 
you  die,  0  house  of  Israel  ?" 

4.  As  a  pigeon  that  seeks  to  take  shelter  in  a  tower, 
seeing  the  entrance  closed  on  every  side,  continues  to 
fly  round  till  she  finds  an  opening  through  which  she 
enters,  so,  says  St.  Augustine,  did  the  divine  mercy  act 


238  SERMON    XXXIT. 


towards  me  when  I  was  in  enmity  with  God.  Cir- 
cuibat  super  me  fidelis  a  longe  misericordia  tua."  The 
Lord  treated  you,  brethren,  in  a  similar  manner.  As 
often  as  you  sinned  you  banished  him  from  your  souls. 
The  wicked  have  said  to  God :  "  Depart  from  us." 
(Job  xxi.  14.)  And,  instead  of  abandoning  you,  what 
has  the  Lord  done  ?  He  has  placed  himself  at  the  door 
of  your  ungrateful  hearts,  and,  by  his  knocking,  has 
made  you  feel  that  he  was  outside,  and  seeking  for  ad 
mission.  "  Behold  I  stand  at  the  gate  and  knock." 
(Apoc.  iii.  20.)  lie,  as  it  were,  entreated  you  to  have 
compassion  on  him,  and  to  allow  him  to  enter.  "  Open 
to  me,  my  sister."  (Cant.  v.  2.)  Open  to  me  ;  I  will  de 
liver  you  from  perdition ;  I  will  forget  all  the  insults 
you  have  offered  to  me  if  you  give  up  sin.  Perhaps 
you  are  unwilling  to  open  to  me  through  fear  of  becom 
ing  poor  by  restoring  ill-gotten  goods,  or  by  separating 
from  a  person  who  provided  for  you  ?  Am  not  I,  says 
the  Lord,  able  to  provide  for  you  ?  Perhaps  you  think 
that,  if  you  renounce  a  certain  friendship  which  sepa 
rates  you  from  me,  you  shall  lead  a  life  of  misery  ? 
Am  I  not  able  to  content  your  soul  and  to  make  your 
life  happy  ?  Ask  those  who  love  me  with  their  whole 
hearts,  and  they  will  tell  you  that  my  grace  makes  them 
content,  and  that  they  would  not  exchange  their  condi 
tion,  though  poor  and  humble,  for  all  the  delights  and 
riches  of  the  monarchs  of  the  earth. 

Second  Point.  Mercy  of  God  in  waiting  for  sinners  to 
return  to  him. 

5.  We  have  considered  the  divine  mercy  in  calling 
sinners  to  repentance :  let  us  now  consider  his  patience 
in  waiting  for  their  return.  That  great  servant  of  God, 
D.  Sancia  Carillo,  a  penitent  of  Father  John  Avila, 
used  to  say,  that  the  consideration  of  God's  patience 
with  sinners  made  her  desire  to  build  a  church,  and 
entitle  it  "  The  Patience  of  God."  Ah,  sinners !  who 
could  ever  bear  with  what  God  has  borne  from  you  ?  If 
the  offences  which  you  have  committed  against  God  had 
been  offered  to  your  best  friends,  or  even  to  your  parents, 
they  surely  would  have  sought  revenge.  When 
you  insulted  the  Lord  he  was  able  to  chastise  you ; 


MERCY   OF    GOD   TOWARDS   SINNERS.  239 

you  repeated  the  insult,  and  he  did  not  punish  your 
guilt,  but  preserved  your  life,  and  provided  you  with 
sustenance.  lie,  as  it  were,  pretended  not  to  see  the 
injuries  you  offered  to  him,  that  you  might  enter  into 
yourselves,  and  cease  to  offend  him.  "  Thou  over- 
lookest  the  sins  of  men  for  the  sake  of  repentance." 
(Wis.  xi.  24.)  But  how,  0  Lord,  does  it  happen,  that 
thou  canst  not  behold  a  single  sin,  and  that  thou  dost 
bear  in  silence  with  so  many  ?  "  Thy  eyes  are  too  pure  to 
behold  evil,  and  thou  canst  not  look  on  iniquity.  Why 
lookest  thou  upon  them  that  do  unjust  things,  and 
boldest  thy  peace  ?"  (Hab.  i.  13.)  Thou  seest  the  vin 
dictive  prefer  their  own  before  thy  honour  ;  thou 
beholdest  the  unjust,  instead  of  restoring  what  they 
have  stolen,  continuing  to  commit  theft;  the  unchaste, 
instead  of  being  ashamed  of  their  impurities,  boasting 
of  them  before  others  ;  the  scandalous,  not  content  with 
the  sins  which  they  themselves  commit,  but  seeking 
to  draw  others  into  rebellion  against  thee  ;  thou  seest 
all  this,  and  holdest  thy  peace,  and  dost  not  inflict  ven 
geance. 

6.  "  Omnis  creatura,"  says  St.  Thomas,  "tibi  factor! 
deserviens  excandescit  adversus  injustos."  All  creatures 
— the  earth,  fire,  air,  water — because  they  all  obey  God, 
would,  by  a  natural  instinct,  wish  to  punish  the  sin 
ner,  and  to  avenge  the  injuries  which  he  does  to  the 
Creator ;  but  God,  through  his  mercy,  restrains  them. 
But,  0  Lord,  thou  waitest  for  the  wicked  that  they 
may  enter  into  themselves ;  and  dost  thou  not  see  that 
they  abuse  thy  mercy  to  offer  new  insults  to  thy 
majesty  ?  "  Thou  hast  been  favourable  to  the  nation, 
O  Lord,  thou  hast  been  favourable  to  the  nation  :  art 
thou  glorified  ?"  (Tsa.  xxvi.  15.)  Thou  hast  waited  so 
long  for  sinners  ;  thou  hast  abstained  from  inflicting 
punishment ;  but  what  glory  have  you  reaped  from  thy 
forbearance  ?  They  have  become  more  wicked.  Why  so 
much  patience  with  such  ungrateful  souls  ?  Why  dost 
thou  continue  to  wait  for  their  repentance  ?  Why  dost 
thou  not  chastise  their  wickedness  ?  The  same  Prophet 
answers  :  "  The  Lord  waiteth  that  he  may  have  mercy 
on  you."  (Isa.  xxx.  18.)  God  waits  for  sinners  that 
they  may  one  day  repent,  and  that  after  their  repent- 


240  SERMON   XXXII. 


ance,  he  may  pardon  and  save  them.  "As  I  live,  saith 
the  Lord,  I  desire  not  the  death  of  the  wicked,  but  that 
the  wicked  turn  from  his  way  and  live."  (Ezech.  xxxiii. 
11.)  St.  Augustine  goes  so  far  as  to  say  that  the  Lord, 
if  he  were  not  God,  should  he  unjust  on  account  of  his 
excessive  patience  towards  sinners.  "  Deus,  Deus  incus, 
pace  tua  dicam,  nisi  quia  Deus  esses,  injustus  esses." 
By  waiting  for  those  who  abuse  his  patience  to  multiply 
their  sins,  God  appears  to  do  an  injustice  to  the  divine 
honour.  "  We,"  continues  the  saint,  "sin;  we  adhere 
to  sin  (some  of  us  become  familiar  and  intimate  with 
sin,  and  sleep  for  months  and  years  in  this  miserable 
state) ;  we  rejoice  at  sin  (some  of  us  go  so  far  as  to  boast 
of  our  wickedness)  ;  and  thou  art  appeased  !  "Wo  pro 
voke  thce  to  anger — thou  dost  invite  us  to  mercy."  We 
and  God  appear  to  be,  as  it  were,  engaged  in  a  contest, 
in  which  we  labour  to  provoke  him  to  chastise  our  guilt, 
and  he  invites  us  to  pardon. 

7.  Lord,  exclaimed  holy  Job,  what  is  man,  that  thou 
dost  entertain  so  great  an  esteem  for  him  ?     Why  dost 
thou  love  him  so  tenderly  ?     "  What  is  man  that  thou 
shouldst  magnify  him  ?  or  why  dost  thou  >et  thy  heart 
upon  him  ?"  (Job.  vii.  ]  7.)  St.  Denis  the  Areopagite  says, 
that  God  seeks  after  sinners  like  a  despised  lover,  en 
treating  them  not  to  destroy  themselves.     "  Deus  etiani 
a  so  aversos  amatorie  scquitur,  et  deprecatur ne  pereant." 
Why,  0  ungrateful  souls,  do  you  fly  from  me  ?     I  love 
you  and  desire  nothing  but  your  welfare.     Ah,  sinners ! 
says  St.  Teresa,  remember  that  he  who  now  calls  and 
seeks  after  you,  is  that  God  who  shall  one  day  be  your 
judge.      If  you  are  lost,  the  great  mercies  which  he 
now  shows  you,  shall  be  the  greatest  torments  which, 
you  shall  suffer  in  hell. 

Third  Point.     Mercy  of  God  in  receiving  penitent 
sinners. 

8.  Should  a  subject  who   has   rebelled   against  an 
earthly  monarch  go  into  the  presence  of  his  sovereign 
to  ask  pardon,  the  prince  instantly  banishes  the  rebel 
from  his  sight,  and  does  not  condescend  even  to  look  at 
him.     But  God  does  not  treat  us  in  this  manner,  when 
we  go  with  humility  before  him  to  implore  mercy  and 


MERCY   OF    GOD   TOWARDS   SINNERS.  241 


forgiveness.  "The  Lord  your  God  is  merciful,  and 
will  not  turn  away  his  face  from  you  if  you  return  to 
him."  (2  Par.  xxx.  9.)  God  cannot  turn  away  his  face 
from  those  who  cast  themselves  at  his  feet  with  an 
humble  and  contrite  heart.  Jesus  himself  has  protested 
that  he  will  not  reject  any  one  who  returns  to  him. 
"  And  him  that  cometh  to  me,  I  will  not  cast  out." 

(John  vi.  h7.)  But  how  can  he  reject  those  whom  he 
himself  invites  to  return,  and  promises  to  embrace  ? 
"  Return  to  me,  saith  the  Lord,  and  I  will  receive  thee." 
(Jer.  iii.  1.)  In  another  place  he  says:  Sinners,  I  ought 
to  turn  my  back  on  you,  because  you  first  turned  your 
back  on  me  ;  but  be  converted  to  me,  and  I  will  be  con 
verted  to  you.  "  Turn  to  me,  saith  the  Lord  of  hosts, 
and  I  will  turn  to  you,  saith  the  Lord  of  hosts." 
(Zach.  i.  3.) 

^  9.  Oh  !  with  what  tenderness  does  God  embrace  a 
sinner  that  returns  to  him  !  This  tenderness  Jesus 
Christ  wished  to  declare  to  us  when  he  said  that  he  is 
the  good  pastor,  who,  as  soon  as  he  finds  the  lost  sheep, 
embraces  it  and  places  it  on  his  own  shoulders.  "  And 
when  he  hath  found  it,  doth  he  not  lay  it  upon  his 
shoulders  rejoicing?"  (Luke  xv.  5.)  This  tenderness 
also  appears  in  the  parable  of  the  prodigal  son,  in  which 
Jesus  Christ  tells  us  that  he  is  the  good  father,  who, 
when  his  lost  son  returns,  goes  to  meet  him,  embraces 
and  ^  kisses  him,  and,  as  it  were,  swoons  away  through 
joy  in  receiving  him.  "  And  running  to  him,  he  fell 
upon  his  neck  and  kissed  him."  (Luke  xv.  20.) 

10.  God  protests  that  when  sinners  repent  of  their 
iniquities,  he  will  forget  all  their  sins,  as  if  they  had 
never  offended  him.  "But,  if  the  wicked  do  penance 
for  all  the  sins  which  he  hath  committed.  ..  .living,  he 
shall  live,  and  shall  not  die.  I  will  not  remember  all 
his  iniquities  that  he  hath  done."  (Ezech.  xviii.  21,22.) 
By  the  Prophet  Isaias,  the  Lord  goes  so  far  as  to  say : 
"  Come  and  accuse  me,  saith  the  Lord.  If  your  sins  be 
as  scarlet,  they  shall  be  made  white  as  snow."  (Isa.  i. 
18.)  Mark  the  words,  Come  and  accuse  me.  As  if  the 
Lord  said  :  Sinners,  come  to  me,  and  if  I  do  not  pardon 
and  embrace  you,  reprove  me,  upbraid  me  with  violating 
my  promise.  But  no !  God  cannot  despise  an  humble 

Q 


242  SERMON    XXXII. 


and  contrite  heart.     "  A  contrite  and  humble  heart,  O 
God,  thou  wilt  not  despise."  (Fs.  1.  19.) 

11.  To  show  mercy  and  grant  pardon  to  sinners,  God 
regards  as  redounding  to  his  own  glory.  "  And  there 
fore  shall  he  be  exalted  sparing  you."  (Isa.  xxx.  18.) 
The  holy  Church  says,  that  God  displays  his  omnipo 
tence  in  granting  pardon  and  mercy  to  sinners.  "  O 
God,  who  manifested  thy  omnipotence  in  sparing  and 
showing  mercy."  Do  not  imagine,  dearly  beloved  sin 
ners,  that  God  requires  of  you  to  labour  for  a  long  time 
before  he  grants  you  pardon  :  as  soon  as  you  wish  for 
forgiveness,  he  is  ready  to  give  it.  Behold  what  the 
Scripture  says  :  "  Weeping,  thou  shalt  uot  weep,  he  will 
surely  have  pity  on  thee."  (Isa.  xxx.  19.)  You  shall 
not  have  to  weep  for  a  long  time  :  as  soon  as  you  shall 
have  shed  the  tirst  tear  through  sorrow  for  your  sins, 
God  will  have  mercy  on  you.  "  At  the  voice  of  thy  cry, 
as  soon  as  he  shall  hear,  he  will  answer  thee."  (Ibid.) 
The  moment  he  shall  hear  you  say :  Forgive  me,  0  my 
God,  forgive  me,  he  will  instantly  answer  and  grant 
your  pardon. 


SEE3IOX  XXXIII.— FOURTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

Death  is  certain  and  uncertain. 

'Let  down  your  nets  for  a  draught." — LUKE  v.  4. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  find  that,  having  gone  up  into 
one  of  the  ships,  and  having  heard  from  St.  Peter,  that 
he  and  his  companions  had  laboured  all  the  night  and 
bad  taken  nothing,  Jesus  Christ  said:  "  Launch  out  into 
the  deep,  and  let  down  your  nets  for  a  draught."  They 
obeyed  ;  and  having  cast  out  their  nets  into  the  sea,  they 
took  such  a  multitude  of  fishes,  that  the  nets  were  nearly 
broken.  Brethren,  God  has  placed  us  in  the  midst  of 
the  sea  of  this  life,  and  has  commanded  us  to  cast  out 
our  nets,  that  we  may  catch  fishes  ;  that  is,  that  we  may 
perform  good  works,  by  which  we  can  acquire  merits 
for  eternal  life.  Happy  wo,  if  we  attain  this  end  and 


DEATH   IS   CERTAIN    AND    UNCERTAIN.  243 


save  our  souls  !  Unhappy  we,  if,  instead  of  laying  up 
treasures  for  heaven,  we  by  our  sins  merit  hell,  and 
bring  our  souls  to  damnation !  Our  happiness  or  misery 
for  eternity  depends  on  the  moment  of  our  death,  which 
is  certain  and  uncertain.  The  Lord  assures  us  that  death 
is  certain,  that  we  may  prepare  for  it ;  but,  on  the  other 
hand,  he  leaves  us  uncertain  as  to  the  time  of  our  death, 
that  we  may  be  always  prepared  for  it — two  points  of 
the  utmost  importance. 

First  Point.     It  is  certain  that  we  shall  die. 
Second  Point.     It  is  uncertain  when  we  shall  die. 

First  Point.  It  is  certain  that  we  shall  die. 
^1.  "  It  is  appointed  unto  men  once  to  die."  (Heb.  ix. 
27.)  ^  The  decree  has  been  passed  for  each  of  us  :  wo  must 
all  die.  St.  Cyprian  says,  that  we  are  all  born  with  the 
halter  on  the  neck :  hence,  every  step  we  make  brings 
us  nearer  to _ the  gibbet.  For  each  of  us  the  gibbet  shall 
be  the  last  sickness,  which  will  end  in  death.  As  then, 
brethren,  your^name  has  been  inserted  in  the  registry 
of  baptism,  so  it  shall  be  one  day  written  in  the  record 
of  the  dead.  As,  in  speaking  of  your  ancestors,  you 
say  :  God  be  merciful  to  my  father,  to  my  uncle,  or  to 
my  brother ;  so  others  shall  say  the  same  of  you  when 
you  shall  be  in  the  other  world ;  and  as  you  have  often 
heard  the  death-bell  toll  for  many,  so  others  shall  hear 
it  toll  for  you. 

2.  All  things  future,  which  regard  men  now  living, 
are  uncertain,  but  death  is  certain.  "  All  other  goods 
and  evils,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  are  uncertain ;  death 
only  is  certain."  It  is  uncertain  whether  such  an  infant 
shall  be  rich  or  poor,  whether  he  shall  enjoy  good  or 
ill  health,  whether  he  shall  die  at  an  early  or  at  an  ad 
vanced  age.  But  it  is  certain  that  he  shall  die,  though 
he  be  son  of  a  peer  or  of  a  monarch.  And,  when  the 
hour  arrives,  no  one  can  resist  the  stroke  of  death. 
The  same  St.  Augustine  says  :  "  Fires,  waters,  and  the 
sword  are  resisted;  kings  are  resisted:  death  comes; 
who  resists  it  ?"  (in  Ps.  xii.)  We  may  resist  conflagra 
tions,  inundations,  the  sword  of  enemies,  and  the  power 
of  princes  ;  but  who  can  resist  death  ?  A  certain  king 


244  SETIMON  xxxin. 


of  France,  as  Belluacensis  relates,  said  in  his  last  mo 
ments  :  "  Behold,  with  all  my  power,  I  cannot  make 
death  wait  for  a  single  hour."  No ;  when  the  term  of 
life  has  arrived,  death  does  not  wait  even  a  moment — 
"  Thou  hast  appointed  his  bounds,  which  cannot  be 
passed."  (Job.  xiv.  5.) 

3.  We  must  all  die.     This  truth  we  not  only  believe, 
but  see  with  our  eyes.     In  every  age  houses,  streets, 
and  cities  are  filled  with  new  inhabitants  :  their  former 
possessors  are  shut  up  in  the  grave.     And,  as  for  them 
the  days  of  life  are  over,  so  a  time  shall  come  when  not 
one  ot  all  who  are  now  alive  shall  be  among  the  living. 
"Days  shall  be   formed,   and   no   one  in  them."    (Ps. 
cxxxviii.  10.)     "Who  is  the  man  that  shall  live,  and 
shall  not  see  death  ?"  (Ps.  Ixxxviii.  49  )     Should  any 
one  flatter  himself  that  he  will  not  die,  he  would  not 
only  be  a  disbeliever — for  it  is  of  faith  that  we  shall  all 
die — but  he  would  be  regarded  as  a  madman.  We  know 
that  all  men,  even  potentates  and  princes  and  emperors, 
have,  utter  a  certain  time,  fallen  victims  to  death.    And 
where   are  they  now  ?     "  Tell  me,"  says  St.  Bernard, 
"where   are  the  lovers  of  the  world?      Nothing   has 
remained  of  them  but  ashes  and  worms."     Of  so  many 
great  men  of  the  world,  though  buried  in  marble  mau 
soleums,  nothing  has  remained  but  a  little  dust  and  a 
few  withered  bones.     We  know  that  our  ancestors  are 
no  longer  among  the  living  :  of  their  death  we  are  con 
stantly  reminded  by  their  pictures,  their  memorandum 
books,  their  beds,  and  by  the  clothes  which  they  have 
left  us.     And  can  we  entertain  a  hope  or  a  doubt  that 
we  shall  not  die  ?     Of  all  who  lived  in  this  town  a  hun 
dred  years  ago  how  many  are  now  alive  ?     They  are 
all  in  eternity — in  an  eternal  day  of  delights,  or  in  an 
eternal  night  of  torments.     Either  the  one  or  the  other 
shall  be  our  lot  also. 

4.  But,  0  God!  we  all  know  that  we  shall  die:  the 
misfortune  is,  that  we  imagine  death  as  distant  as  if  it 
were  never  to  come,  and  therefore  we  lose  sight  of  it. 
But,  sooner  or  later,  whether  we  think  or  think  not  of 
death,  it  is  certain,  and  of  faith  that  we  shall  die,  and 
that  we  are  drawing  nearer  to  it  every  day.  "  For  we 
have  not  here  a  lasting  city,  but  we  seek  one  that  is  to 


DEATH   IS    CERTAIN    AND    UNCERTAIN.  245 

come."  (Heb.  xiii.  14.)  This  is  not  our  country :  here 
we  are  pilgrims  on  a  journey.  "  While  we  are  in  the 
body  we^are  absent  from  the  Lord."  (2  Cor.  v.  6.)  Our 
country  is  Paradise,  if  we  know  how  to  acquire  it  by  the 
grace  of  God  and  by  our  own  good  works.  Our  house 
is  not  that  in  which  we  live ;  we  dwell  in  it  only  in 
passing ;  our  dwelling  is  in  eternity.  u  Man  shall  go 
into  the  house  of  his  eternity."  (Eccl.  xii.  5.)  How- 
great  would  be  the  folly  of  the  man,  who,  in  passing 
through  a  strange  country,  should  lay  out  all  his  property 
in  the  purchase  of  houses  and  possessions  in  a  foreign 
land,  and  reduce  himself  to  the  necessity  of  living  miser 
ably  for  the  remainder  of  his  days  in  his  own  country  ! 
And  is  not  he,  too,  a  fool,  who  seeks  after  happiness  in 
this  world,  from  which  he  must  soon  depart ;  and,  by  his 
sins,  exposes  himself  to  the  danger  of  misery  in  the  next, 
where  he  must  live  for  eternity  ? 

5.  Tell  me,  beloved  brethren,  if,  instead  of  preparing 
for  his  approaching  death,  a  person  condemned  to  dio 
were,  on  his  way  to   the  place  of  execution,  to  employ 
the  few  remaining  moments  of  his  life  in  admiring  the 
beauty  of  the  houses  as  he  passed  along,  in  thinking  of 
balls  and  comedies,   in  uttering  immodest  words,   and 
detracting  his  neighbours,  would  you  not  say  that  the 
unhappy  man  had  either  lost  his  reason,  or  that  he  was 
abandoned  by  God  ?     And  are  not  you  on  the  way  to 
death  ?     Why  then  do  you  seek  only  the  gratification 
of  the  senses  ?     Why  do  you  not  think  of  preparing  the 
accounts  which  you  shall  one  day,  and  perhaps  very 
soon,  have  to  render  at  the  tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ  ? 
Souls  that  have  faith,  leave  to  the  fools  of  this  world  the 
care  of  realizing  a  fortune  on  this  earth ;  seek  you  to 
make  a  fortune  for  the  next  life,  which  shall  be  eternal. 
The  present  life  must  end,  and  end  very  soon. 

6.  Go  to  the  grave  in  which  your  relatives  and  friends 
are  buried.     Look  at   their  dead  bodies  :  each  of  them 
says   to   you  :     "  Yesterday  for  me ;    to-day  for  thee." 
(Eccl.  xxxviii.  23.)     What  has   happened  to   me  must 
one  day  happen  to  thee.     Thou  shalt  .become  dust  and 
ashes,  as  I  am.     And  where  shall  thy  soul  be  found,  if, 
before   death,  thou  hast  not  settled  thy  accounts  with 
God  ?     Ah,  brethren  !  if  you  wish  to  live  well,  and  to 


24G 


SKUMOX    XXX III. 


to  have  you  accounts  ready  for  that  great  day,  on  which 
your  doom  to  eternal  life  or  to  eternal  death  must  be 
decided,  endeavour,  during  the  remaining  days  of  life, 
to  live  with  death  before  your  eyes.  "  0  death,  thy 
sentence  is  welcome."  (Eccl.  xli.  3.)  Oh  !  how  correct 
are  the  judgments,  how  well  directed  the  actions,  of  those 
who  form  their  judgments,  and  perform  their  actions, 
with  death  before  their  view  !  The  remembrance  of 
death  destroys  all  attachment  to  the  goods  of  this  earth. 
"  Let  the  end  of  life  be  considered/'  says  St.  Lawrence 
Justinian,  "  and  there  will  be  nothing  'in  this  world  to 
be  loved."  (de  Ligno  Vitac,  cap.  v.)  Yes  ;  all  the  riches, 
honours,  and  pleasures  of  this  world  are  easily  despised 
by  him  who  considers  that  he  must  soon  leave  them  for 
ever,  and  that  he  shall  be  thrown  into  the  grave  to  be 
the  food  of  worms. 

7.  {Some  banish  the  thought  of  death,  as  if,  by  avoid 
ing  to  think  of  death,  they  could  escape  it.     But  death 
cannot  be  avoided  ;  and  they  who  banish  the  thought  of 
it,  expose  themselves  to   great  danger  of  an  unhappy 
death.     By  keeping  death  before  their  eyes,  the  saints 
have  despised  all  the  goods  of  this  earth.     Hence  St. 
Charles  Borromeo  kept  on  his  table  a  death's  head,  that 
he  might  have  it  continually  in  view.    Cardinal  Baronius 
had  the  words,  Memento  mori — "  Remember  death" — 
inscribed  on  his  ring.     The  venerable  P.  Juvenal  Anzia, 
Bishop   of  Salu/zo,   had  before  him  a  skull,  on  which 
was  written,  "As  I  am,  so  thou  shalt  be."     In  retiring 
to  deserts  and  caves  the  holy  solitaries  brought  with 
them  the  head  of  a  dead  man  ;  and  for  what  purpose  ? 
To  prepare  themselves  for  death.     Thus  a  certain  hermit 
being  asked  at  death,  why  he  was  so  cheerful,  answered: 
I  have  kept  death  always  before  my  eyes ;  and  therefore, 
now  that  it  has  arrived,  I  feel  no  terror.     But,  oh !  how 
full  of  terror  is  death,  when  it  comes  to  those  who  have 
thought  of  it  but  seldom. 

Second  Point.     It  is  uncertain  when  we  shall  die. 

8.  "  Nothing,"  says  the  Idiota,  "  is  more  certain  than 
death,  but  nothing  is  more  uncertain  than  the  hour  of 
death."      It  is   certain    that   we   shall  die.      God  has 
already  determined  the  year,  the  month,  the  day,  the 


DEATH    IS    CERTAIN    AND    UNCERTAIN.  247 

Lour,  the  moment,  in  which  each  of  us  shall  leave  this 
earth,  and  enter  into  eternity  ;  but  this  moment  he  has 
resolved  not  to  make  known  to  us.  And  justly,  says  St. 
Augustine,  has  the  Lord  concealed  it ;  for,  had  he  mani 
fested  to  all  the  day  fixed  for  their  death,  many  should 
le  induced  to  continue  in  the  habit  of  sin  by  the  certainty 
of  not  dying  before  the  appointed  day.  "  Si  statuisset 
viam  omnibus,  faceret  abundare  peccata  de  securitate  " 
(in  Ps.  cxliv).  Hence  the  holy  doctor  teaches  that  God 
ias  concealed  from  us  the  day  of  our  death,  that  we 
may  spend  all  our  days  well.  "  Latet  ultimus  dies,  ut 
observentur  omnes  dies/'  (Horn.  xii.  inter  50.)  Hence 
Jesus  Christ  says:  'Be  you  also  ready;  for  at  what 
hour  you  think  not  the  Son  of  Man  will  come."  (Luke 
xii.  40.)  That  we  may  be  always  prepared  to  die,  he 
wishes  us  to  be  persuaded  that  death  will  come  when  we 
least  expect  it.  "  Of  death,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  we  are 
uncertain,  that  we  may  be  found  always  prepared  for 
death."  St.  Paul  likewise  admonishes  us  that  the  day 
of  the  Lord — that  is,  the  day  on  which  the  Lord  shall 
judge  us — shall  come  unexpectedly,  like  a  thief  in  the 
night,  "  The  day  of  the  Lord  shall  so  come  as  a  thief 
in  the  night."  (1  Thess.  v.  2.)  Since,  then,  says  St. 
Bernard,  death  may  assail  you  and  take  away  your  life 
in  every  place  and  at  every  time,  you  should,  if  you 
wish  to  die  well  and  to  save  your  soul,  be  at  all  times 
and  places  in  expectation  of  death  :  "  Mors  ubique  te 
expectat  tu  ubique  earn  expectabis  :"  and  St.  Augustine 
says  :  "  Latet  ultimus  dies,  ut  observentur  omnes  dies/' 
(Horn,  xii.)  The  Lord  conceals  from  us  the  last  day  of 
our  life,  that  we  may  always  have  ready  the  account 
which  we  must  render  to  God  after  death. 

9.  Many  Christians  are  lost,  because  many,  even 
among  the  old,  who  feel  the  approach  of  death,  flatter 
themselves  that  it  is  at  a  distance,  and  that  it  will  not 
come  without  giving  them  time  to  prepare  for  it.  "  Dura 
mente,"  says  St.  Gregory,  "  abesse  longe  mors  creditur 
etiam  cum  sentitur."  (Moral,  lib.  8.)  Death,  even  when 
it  is  felt,  is  believed  to  be  far  off.  O  brethren,  are  these 
your  sentiments  ?  How  do  you  know  that  your  death 
is  near  or  distant  ?  What  reason  have  you  to  suppose 
that  death  will  give  you  time  to  prepare  for  it  ?  How 


248  SERMOX    XXXIII. 


many  do  we  know  who  have  died  suddenly  ?  Some  have 
died  walking;  some  sitting;  and  some  during  sleep. 
Did  any  one  of  these  ever  imagine  that  he  should  die  in 
such  a  manner?  But  they  have  died  in  this  way;  and 
if  they  were  in  enmity  with  God,  what  has  been  the  lot 
of  their  unhappy  souls  ?  Miserable  the  man  who  meets 
•with  an  unprovided  death  !  And  I  assert,  that  all  who 
ordinarily  neglect  to  unburthen  their  conscience,  die 
without  preparation,  even  though  they  should  have 
seven  or  eight  days  to  prepare  for  a  good  death ;  for  as 
I  shall  show  in  the  forty-fourth  sermon,  it  is  very  difficult, 
during  these  days  of  confusion  and  terror,  to  settle  ac 
counts  with  God,  and  to  return  to  him  with  sincerity. 
But  I  repeat  that  death  may  come  upon  you  in  such  a 
manner,  that  you  shall  not  have  time  even  to  receive 
the  sacraments.  And  who  knows  whether,  in  another 
hour,  you  shall  be  among  the  living  or  the  dead  ?  The 
uncertainty  of  the  time  of  his  death  made  Job  tremble. 
"For  I  knew  not  how  long  I  shall  continue,  or  whether, 
after  a  while,  my  Maker  may  take  me  away."  (Job  xxxii. 
22.)  Hence  St.  Basil  exhorts  us  in  going  to  bed  at 
night,  not  to  trust  that  we  shall  see  the  next  day.  "  Cum 
in  lectulum  ad  quicsccndum  membra  tua  posueris,  noli 
confidere  de  lucis  adventu."  (Inst.  ad  fil.  spirit.) 

10.  Whenever,  then,  the  devil  tempts  you  to  sin,  by 
holding  out  the  hope  that  you  will  go  to  confession  and 
repair  the  evil  you  have  done,  say  to  him  in  answer  : 
How  do  I  know  that  this  shall  not  be  the  last  day  of  my 
life  ?  And  should  death  overtake  me  in  sin,  and  not 
give  ine  time  to  make  ray  confession,  what  shall  become 
of  me  for  all  eternity  ?  Alas  !  how  many  poor  sinners 
have  been  struck  dead  in  the  very  act  of  indulging  in 
some  sinl'ul  pleasure,  and  have  been  sent  to  hell !  "  As 
fishes  are  taken  by  the  hook,  and  as  birds  are  caught 
with  the  snare,  so  men  are  taken  in  the  evil  time."' 
(Eccl.  ix.  12.)  Fishes  are  taken  with  the  hook  while 
they  eat  the  bait  that  conceals  the  hook,  which  is  the 
instrument  of  their  death.  The  evil  time  is  precisely 
that  in  which  sinners  are  actually  offending  God.  In 
the  act  of  sin,  they  calm  their  conscience  by  a  security 
of  afterwards  making  a  good  confession,  and  reversing 
the  sentence  of  their  damnation.  But  death  comes 


DEATH    IS    CERTAIN    AND    UNCERTAIN.  249 

suddenly  upon  them,  and  does  not  leave  them  time  for 
repentance.  "For,  when  they  shall  say  peace  and 
security,  then  shall  sudden  destruction  come  upon  them." 
(1  Thess.  v.  3.) 

11.  If  a  person  lend  a  sum  of  money  he  is  careful 
instantly  to  get  a  written  acknowledgment,  and  to  take 
all  the  other  means  necessary  to  secure  the  repayment 
of  it.     Who,   he   says,   can  know  what  shall  happen? 
Death  may  come,  and  I  may  lose  my  money.     And  how 
does  it  happen  that  there  are  so  many  who  neglect  to 
use  the  same  caution  for  the  salvation  of  their  souls, 
which  is  of  far  greater  importance  than  all  temporal 
interests  ?      "Why  do  they  not  also  say  :  Who  knows 
what  may  happen  ?  death  may  come,  and  I  may  lose  my 
soul  ?     If  you  lose  a  sum  of  money,  all  is  not  lost ;  if 
you  lose  it  one  way  you  may  recover  the  loss  in  another ; 
but  he  that  dies  and  loses  his  soul,  loses  all,  and  has  no 
hope  of  ever  recovering  it.     If  we  could  die  twice,  we 
might,   if  we  lost  our  soul  the  first  time,  save  it  the 
second.     But  we  cannot  die  twice.     "  It  is  appointed 
unto  men  once  to  die,"   (Heb.  ix.  '27-)     Mark  the  word 
once  :  death  happens  to  each  of  us  but  once  :  he  who  has 
erred  the  first  time  has  erred  for  ever.      Hence,  to  bring 
the  soul  to  hell  is  an  irreparable  error.     "  Periisse  setnel 
seternum  est." 

12.  The  venerable  Father  John  Avila  was  a  man  of 
great  sanctity,  and  apostle  of  Spain.     What  was  the 
answer  of  this  great  servant  of  God,  who  had  led  a  holy 
life  from  his  childhood,  when  he  was  told  that  his  death 
was  at  hand,  and  that  he  had  but  a  short  time  to  live  ? 
"  Oh  !"  replied  the  holy  man  with  trembling,  "  that  I 
had  a  little  more  time  to  prepare  for  death ! "    St.  Agatho, 
abbot,  after  spending  so  many  years  in  penance,  trembled 
at  the  hour  of  death,  and  said  :  "  What  shall  become  of 
me  ?  who  can  know  the  judgments  of  God  ?"     And,  O 
brethren,  what  will  you  say  when  the  approach  of  death 
shall  be  announced  to  you,  and  when,  from  the  priest 
who  attends  you,  you  shall  hear  these  words:  "  Go  forth, 
Christian  soul,  from  this  world  ?"      You  will,  perhaps, 
say  :  Wait  a  little ;  allow  me  to  prepare  better.     No  ; 
depart  immediately  ;  death  does  not  wait.     You  should 
therefore   prepare   yourselves   now.      "  With   fear  and 


250  SERMON    XXXIV. 


trembling  work  out  your  salvation."  (Phil.  ii.  12.)  St. 
Paul  admonishes  us  that,  if  we  wish  to  save  our  souls, 
we  must  live  in  fear  and  trembling,  lest  death  ma)'  find 
us  in  sin.  Be  attentive,  brethren  :  there  is  question  of 
eternity.  "  If  a  tree  fall  to  the  south  or  to  the  north, 
in  what  place  soever  it  shall  fall  there  shall  it  be." 
(Eccl.  xi.  3.)  If,  when  the  tree  of  your  life  is  cut  down, 
you  fall  to  the  south — that  is,  if  you  obtain  eternal  life 
— how  great  shall  be  your  joy  at  being  able  to  say :  I 
shall  be  saved ;  I  have  secured  all ;  I  can  never  lose 
God  ;  I  shall  be  happy  for  ever.  But,  if  you  fall  to  the 
north — that  is,  into  eternal  damnation — how  great  shall 
be  your  despair !  Alas  !  you  shall  say,  I  have  erred, 
and  my  error  is  irremediable  !  Arise,  then,  from  your 
tepidity,  and,  after  this  sermon,  make  a  resolution  to 
give  yourselves  sincerely  to  God.  This  resolution  will 
insure  you  a  good  death,  and  will  make  you  happy  for 
eternity. 


SERMON  XXXIV.— FIFTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On   the   sin  of  anger. 

"  Whosoever  is  angiy  with  his  brother  shall  be  in  danger  of  the 
judgment." — MATT.  v.  ±2. 

ANGER  resembles  fire  ;  hence,  as  fire  is  vehement  in  its 
action,  and,  by  the  smoke  which  it  produces,  obstructs 
the  view,  so  anger  makes  men  rush  into  a  thousand  ex 
cesses,  and  prevents  them  from  seeing  the  sinfulness  of 
their  conduct,  and  thus  exposes  them  to  the  danger  of 
the  judgment  of  eternal  death.  "  "Whosoever  is  angry 
with  his  brother  shall  be  in  danger  of  the  judgment." 
Anger  is  so  pernicious  to  man  that  it  even  disfigures 
his  countenance.  No  matter  how  comely  and  gentle 
he  may  be,  he  shall,  as  often  as  he  yields  to  the  passion 
of  anger,  appear  to  be  a  monster  and  a  wild  beast  full  of 
terror.  "  Iracundus,"  says  St.  Basil,  "  humanam  quasi 
liguram  amittit,  ferae  specimen  indutus."  Horn,  xxi.) 
But,  if  anger  disfigures  us  before  men,  how  much  more 


SIN    OF    ANGER.  "251 


deformed  will  it  render  us  in  the  eyes  of  God  !  In  this 
discourse  I  will  show,  in  the  first  point,  the  destruction 
which  anger  unrestrained  brings  on  the  soul ;  and,  in  the 
second,  how  we  ought  to  restrain  anger  in  all  occasions 
of  provocation  which  may  occur  to  us. 

First  Point. — The  ruin  which  anger  unrestrained 
brings  on  the  soul. 

L.  St.  Jerome  says  that  anger  is  the  door  by  which 
all  vices  enter  the  soul.  "  Omnium  vitiorum  jantia  est 
iracundia."  (Inc.  xxix.  Prov.)  Anger  precipitates  men 
into  resentments,  blasphemies,  acts  of  injustice,  detrac 
tions,  scandals,  and  other  iniquities  ;  for  the  passion  of 
anger  darkens  the  understanding,  and  makes  a  man  act 
like  a  beast  and  a  madman.  "  Caligavit  ab  indigna- 
tione  oculus  meus."  (Job  xvii.  7.)  My  eye  has  lost  its 
sight  through  indignation.  David  said  :  "  My  eye  is 
troubled  with  wrath."  (Ps.  xxx.  10.)  Hence,  according 
to  St.  Bonaventure,  an  angry  man  is  incapable  of  dis 
tinguishing  between  what  is  just  and  unjust.  "  Iratus 
non  potest  videre  quod  justum  est  vel  injustum."  In  a 
word,  St.  Jerome  says  that  anger  deprives  a  man  of 
prudence,  reason,  and  understanding.  "  Ab  omni  con- 
cilio  deturpat,  ut  donee  irascitur,  insanire  credatur." 
Hence  St.  James  says  :  "  The  anger  of  man  worketh 
not  the  justice  of  God."  (St.  James  i.  20.)  The  acts  of 
u  man  under  the  influence  of  anger  cannot  be  conform 
able  to  the  divine  justice,  and  consequently  cannot  be 
faultless. 

2.  A  man  who  does  not  restrain  the  impulse  of  anger, 
easily  falls  into  hatred  towards  the  person  who  has  been 
the  occasion  of  his  passion.  According  to  St.  Augus 
tine,  hatred  is  nothing  else  than  persevering  anger. 
*'  Odium  est  ira  diuturno  tempore  perseverans."  Hence 
•  St.  Thomas  says  that  "  anger  is  sudden,  but  hatred  is 
lasting.''  Opusc.  v.)  It  appears,  then,  that  in  him  in 
whom  anger  perseveres  hatred  also  reigns.  But  some 
will  say :  I  am  the  head  of  the  house  ;  I  must  correct 
my  children  and  servants,  and,  when  necessary,  I  must 
raise  my  voice  against  the  disorders  which  I  witness. 
I  say  in  answer  :  It  is  one  thing  to  be  angry  against  a 
^brother,  and  another  to  be  displeased  at  the  sin  of  a 


252  SERMON    XXXIV. 


brother.  To  be  angry  against  sin  is  not  anger,  but 
zeal ;  and  therefore  it  is  not  only  lawful,  but  is  some 
times  a  duty.  But  our  anger  must  be  accompanied 
with  prudence,  and  must  appear  to  be  directed  against 
sin,  but  not  against  the  sinner  ;  for,  if  the  person  whom 
we  correct  perceive  that  we  speak  through  passion  and 
hatred  towards  him,  the  correction  will  be  unprofitable 
and  even  mischievous.  To  be  angry,  then,  against  a 
brother's  sin  is  certainly  lawful.  "  He,"  says  St. 
Augustine,  "  is  not  angry  with  a  brother  who  is  angry 
against  a  brother's  sin."  It  is  thus,  as  David  said,  we 
may  be  angry  without  sin.  "  Be  ye  angry,  and  sin 
not."  (Ps.  iv.  5.)  But,  to  be  angry  against  a  brother  on 
account  of  the  sin  which  he  has  committed  is  not  lawful ; 
because,  according  to  St.  Augustine,  we  are  not  allowed 
to  hate  others  for  their  vices.  "  Nee  propter  vitia  (licet) 
homines  odisse"  (in  Ps.  xcviii). 

3.  Hatred  brings  with  it  a  desire  of  revenge  ;  for, 
according  to  St.  Thomas,  anger,  when  fully  voluntary, 
is  accompanied  with  a  desire  of  revenge.  "  Ira  est  appe- 
titus  vindicteo."  But  you  will  perhaps  say  :  If  I  resent 
such  an  injury,  God  will  have  pity  on  me,  because  I 
have  just  grounds  of  resentment  Who,  I  ask,  has  told 
you  that  you  have  just  grounds  for  seeking  revenge  ? 
It  is  you,  whose  understanding  is  clouded  by  passions, 
that  say  ?o.  I  have  already  said  that  anger  obscures 
the  mind,  and  takes  away  our  reason  and  under 
standing.  As  long  as  the  passion  of  auger  lasts,  you 
will  consider  your  neighbour's  conduct  very  unjust  and 
intolerable  ;  but,  when  your  anger  shall  have  passed 
away,  you  shall  see  that  his  act  was  not  so  bad  as  it 
appeared  to  you.  But,  though  the  injury  be  grievous, 
or  even  more  grievous,  God  will  not  have  compassion, 
on  you  if  you  seek  revenge.  No,  he  says  :  vengeance 
for  sins  belongs  not  to  you,  but  to  me  ;  and  when  the 
time  shall  come  I  will  chastise  them  as  they  deserve. 
"  Revenge  is  mine,  and  I  will  repay  them  in  due  time." 
(Deut.  xxxii.  35.)  If  you  resent  an  injury  done  to  you 
by  a  neighbour,  God  will  justly  inflict  vengeance  oa 
you  for  all  the  injuries  you  have  offered  to  him,  and 
particularly  for  taking  revenge  on  a  brother  whom  he- 
commands  you  to  pardon.  "  He  that  secketh  to  revenge 


SIN   OF    ANGER.  253 


himself,  shall  find  vengeance  from  the  Lord ....  Man  to 
man  reserveth  anger,  and  doth  he  seek  remedy  of  God  ? 
....  He  that  is  but  flesh  nourisheth  anger  ;  and  doth  he 
ask  forgiveness  of  God  ?  Who  shall  obtain  pardon  for 
his  sins  ?"  (Eccl.  xxviii.  1,  3,  5.)  Man,  a  worm  of  flesh, 
reserves  anger,  and  takes  revenge  on  a  brother  :  does  he 
afterwards  dare  to  ask  mercy  of  God  ?  And  who,  adds 
the  sacred  writer,  can  obtain  pardon  for  the  iniquities  of 
so  daring  a  sinner  ?  tf  Qua  ironte,"  says  St.  Augustine, 
"  indulgentiam  peccatorem  obtinere  poterit,  qui  prse- 
cipienti  dare  veniam  non  acquiescit."  How  can  he  who 
will  not  obey  the  command  of  God  to  pardon  his  neigh 
bour,  expect  to  obtain  from  God  the  forgiveness  of  his 
own  sins  ? 

4,  Let  us  implore  the  Lord  to  preserve  us  from  yield 
ing  to  any  strong  passion,  and  particularly  to  anger. 
"  Give  me  not  over  to  a  shameful  and  foolish  mind." 
(Eccl.  xxiii.  6.)  For,  he  that  submits  to  such  a  passion 
is  exposed  to  great  danger  of  falling  into  a  grievous  sin 
against  God  or  his  neighbour.  How  many,  in  conse 
quence  of  not  restraining  anger,  break  out  into  horrible 
blasphemies  against  God  or  his  saints  !  But,  at  the  very 
time  we  are  in  a  flame  of  indignation,  God  is  armed  with 
scourges.  The  Lord  said  one  day  to  the  Prophet  Jeremias : 
"  What  seest  thou,  Jeremias  ?  And  I  said  :  I  sec  a  rod 
watching/'  (Jer.  i.  11.)  Lord,  I  behold  a  rod  watching 
to  inflict  punishment.  "  The  Lord  asked  him  again  : 
"  What  seest  thou  ?  And  I  said :  I  see  a  boiling 
caldron."  (Ibid.,  v.  13.).  The  boiling  chaldron  is  the 
figure  of  a  man  inflamed  with  wrath,  and  threatened 
with  a  rod,  that  is,  with  the  vengeance  of  God.  Behold, 
then,  the  ruin  which  anger  unrestrained  brings  on  man. 
It  deprives  him,  first,  of  the  grace  of  God,  and  afterwards 
of  corporal  life.  "  Envy  and  anger  shortens  a  man's 
days."  (Eccl.  xxx.  26.)  Job  says :  "  Anger  indeed 
killeth  the  foolish."  (Job  v.  2.)  All  the  days  of  their 
life,  persons  addicted  to  anger  are  unbappy,  because  they 
are  always  in  a  tempest.  But  let  us  pass  to  the  second 
point,  in  which  I  have  to  say  many  things  which  will 
assist  you  to  overcome  this  vice. 

Second  Point. — How  we  ought  to  restrain  anger  in 
the  occasions  of  provocation  which  occur  to  us. 


254  SERMOX  xxxiv. 


5.  In  the  first  place  it  is  necessary  to  know  that  it  is 
not  possible  for  human  weakness,  in  the  midst  of  so  many 
occasions,^  to  be  altogether  free  from  every  motion  of 
anger.  ^  jN"o  one,  as  Seneca  says,  can  be  entirely  exempt 
from  this  passion.  ^  "  Iracundia  nullum  genus  hominum 
excipit"  (I.  3,  c.  xii).  All  our  efforts  must  be  directed 
to  the  moderation  of  the  feelings  of  anger  which  spring 
up  in  the  soul.  How  are  they  to  be  moderated  ?  By 
meekness.  This  is  called  the  virtue  of  the  lamb— that 
is,  the  beloved  virtue  of  Jesus  Christ.  Because,  like  a 
lamb,  without  anger  or  even  complaint,  he  bore  the 
sorrows  of  his  passion  and  crucifixion.  "  He  shall  be  led 
as  a  sheep  to  the  slaughter,  and  dumb  as  a  lamb  before 
his  shearer,  and  he  shall  not  open  his  mouth."  (Isa.  liii. 
7.)  Hence  he  has  taught  us  to  learn  of  him  meekness 
and  humility  of  heart.  "  Learn  of  me,  because  I  am 
meek  and  humble  of  heart."  (Matt.  xi.  2<J.) 

6.  Oh  !  how  pleasing  in  the  sight  of  God  are  the  meek, 
who  submit  in  peace  to  all  crosses,  misfortunes,  persecu 
tions,  and  injuries  !     To  the  meek  is  promised  the  king 
dom  of  heaven.     "  Blessed  are  the  meek,  for  they  shall 
possess  the  land."   (Matt.  v.  4.)     They  are  called  the 
children  of  God.     "  Blessed  are  the  peacemakers ;  for 
they  shall  be  called  the  children  of  God.''  (Ibid.,  v.  9.) 
Some  boast  of  their  meekness,  but  without  any  grounds; 
for  they  arc  meek  only  towards  those  who  praise  and 
confer  favours  upon  them:  but  to  those  who  injure  or 
censure  them  they  are  all  fury  and  vengeance.     The 
virtue  of  meekness  consists  in  being  meek  and  peaceful 
towards  those  who  hate  and  maltreat  us.     "  With  them, 
that  hated  peace  I  was  peaceful."  (Ps.  cxix.  7.) 

7.  We  must,  as  St.  Paul  says,  put  on  the  bowels  of 
mercy  towards  all  men,   and  bear  one  with  another. 
"Put  on  ye  the  bowels  of  mercy,  humility,  modesty, 
patience,  bearing  with  one  another,  and  forgiving  one 
another,  if  any  have  a  complaint  against  another."  (Col 
iii.  12,  13.)     You  wish  others  to  bear  with  your  defects, 
and  to  pardon  your  faults  ;  you  should  act  in  the  same 
manner  towards  them.     Whenever,   then,  you  receive 
an  insult  from  a  person  enraged  against  you',  remember 
that  a  "mild  answer  breaketh  wrath,"  (Prov.  xv.  1.)    A 
certain  monk  once  passed  through  a  cornfield:  the  owner 


SIX    OF    ANGER.  255 


of  the  field  ran  out,  and  spoke  to  him  in  very  offensive 
and  injurious  language.  The  monk  humbly  replied : 
Brother,  you  are  right;  I  have  done  wrong;  pardon  me. 
By  this  answer  the  husbandman  was  so  much  appeased 
that  he  instantly  became  calm,  and  even  wished  to  follow 
the  monk,  and  to  enter  into  religion.  The  proud  make 
use  of  the  humiliations  they  receive  to  increase  their 
pride  ;  but  the  humble  and  the  meek  turn  the  contempt 
and  insults  offered  to  them  into  an  occasion  of  advancing 
in  humility.  "  He,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  is  humble  who 
converts  humiliation  into  humility."  (Ser.  xxiv.  in  Can.) 
8.  "  A  man  of  meekness,"  says  St.  Chrysostom,  "  is 
useful  to  himself  and  to  others."  The  meek  are  useful 
to  themselves,  because,  according  to  F.  Alvares,  the 
time  of  humiliation  and  contempt  is  for  them  the  time 
of  merit.  Hence,  Jesus  Christ  calls  his  disciples  happy 
when  they  shall  be  reviled  and  persecuted.  "  Blessed 
are  ye  when  they  shall  revile  you  and  persecute  you." 
(Matt.  v.  11.)  Hence,  the  saints  have  always  desired  to 
be  despised  as  Jesus  Christ  has  been  despised.  The 
meek  are  useful  to  others ;  because,  as  the  same 
St.  Chrysostom  says,  there  is  nothing  better  calcu 
lated  to  draw  others  to  God,  than  to  see  a  Christian 
meek  and  cheerful  when  he  receives  an  injury  or  an, 
insult.  "  Nihil  ita  conciliat  Domino  f  amiliares  ut  quod 
ilium  vident  mansuetudine  jucundum."  The  reason  is, 
because  virtue  is  known  by  being  tried  ;  and,  as  gold  is 
tried  by  fire,  so  the  meekness  of  men  is  proved  by  humi 
liation.  "  Gold  and  silver  are  tried  in  the  fire,  but 
acceptable  men  in  the  furnace  of  humiliation.  (Eccl.  ii. 
5.)  "  My  spikenard,'"  says  the  spouse  in  the  Canticles, 
<(  sent  forth  the  odour  thereof"  (i.  11.)  The  spikenard 
is  an  odoriferous  plant,  but  diffuses  its  odours  only  when, 
it  is  torn  and  bruised.  In  this  passage  the  inspired 
writer  gives  us  to  understand,  that  a  man  cannot  be  said 
to  be  meek  unless  he  is  known  to  send  forth  the  odour 
of  his  meekness  by  bearing  injuries  and  insults  in  peace 
and  without  anger.  God  wishes  us  to  be  meek  evea 
towards  ourselves.  When  a  person  commits  a  fault, 
God  certainly  wishes  him  to  humble  himself,  to  be  sorry 
for  his  sin,  and  to  purpose  never  to  fall  into  it  again  ^ 
but  he  does  not  wish  him  to  be  indignant  with  himself, 


256  SEKMON   XXXIV. 


and  give  way  to  trouble  and  agitation  of  mind ;  for, 
while  the  soul  is  agitated,  a  man  is  incapable  of  doing 
good.  "  My  heart  is  troubled ;  my  strength  hath  left 
me."  (Ps.  xxx vii.  11.) 

9.  Thus,  when  we  receive  an  insult,  we  must  do  vio 
lence  to  ourselves  in  order  to  restrain  anger.     Let  us 
either  answer  with  meekness,  as  recommended  above,  or 
let  us  remain  silent ;  and  thus,  as  St.  Isidore  says,  we 
shall  conquer.     "  Quamvis  quis  irritct,  tu  dissimula,  quia 
taccndo  vinces."     But,  if  you  answer  through  passion, 
you  shall  do  harm  to  yourselves  and  others.      It  would 
be  still  worse  to  give  an  angry  answer  to  a  person  who 
corrects  you.     "  Medicanti  irascitur,"  says  St.  Bernard, 
"  qui  non  irascitur  sagittanti."  (Ser.  vi.  de  Nativ.)    Some 
are  not  angry,  though  they  ought  to  be  indignant  with 
those  who  wound  their  souls  by  flattery  ;  and  are  filled 
with  indignation  against  the  person  who  censures  them 
in  order  to  heal  their  irregularities.     Against  the  man 
who   abhors  correction,   the  sentence  of  perdition  has, 
according  to  the  Wise  Man,  been  pronounced.   "Because 
they  have  despised  all  my  reproofs,.  . .  .the  prosperity  of 
fools    shall    destroy   them."    (Prov.    i.  30,   etc.)     Fools 
regard  as  prosperity  to  be  free  from  correction,  or  to 
despise  the  admonitions  which  they  receive ;  but  such 
prosperity  is  the  cause  of  their  ruin.     When  you  meet 
with  an  occasion  of  anger,  you  must,  in  the  first  place, 
be  on  your  guard  not  to  allow  anger  to  enter  your  heart. 
*'  Be  not  quickly  angry/'   (Eccles.  vii.  10.)     Some  per 
sons  change  colour,  and  get  into  a  passion,  at  every  con 
tradiction  :  and  when   anger   has   got  admission,    God 
knows  to  what  it  shall  lead  them.     Hence,  it  is  necessary 
to  foresee  these  occasions  in  our  meditations  and  prayers; 
for,  unless  we  are  prepared  for  them,  it  will  be  as  diffi 
cult  to  restrain  anger  as  to  put  a  bridle  on  a  horse  while 
running  away. 

10.  Whenever   we  have  the  misfortune  to    permit 
anger  to  enter  the  soul,  let  us  be  careful  not  to  allow  it 
to  remain.     Jesus  Christ  tells  all  who  remember  that  a 
brother  is  offended  with  them,  not  to  offer  the  gift  which 
they  bring  to  the  altar  without  being  first  reconciled  to 
their  neighbour.     "  Go   first   to   be   reconciled   to  thy 
brother,  and   then   coming  thou  shalt  offer  thy  gift." 


SIX    OF    ANGER. 


(Matt.  v.  24.)  And  he  who  has  received  any  offence, 
should  endeavour  to  root  out  of  his  heart  not  only  all 
anger,  but  also  every  feeling  of  bitterness  towards  the 
persons  who  have  offended  him.  "  Let  all  bitterness," 

says  St.  Paul,  "and  anger  and  indignation be  put 

away  from  you."  (Eph.  iv.  31.)  As  long  as  anger  con 
tinues,  follow  the  advice  of  Seneca — "  When  you  shall 
be  angry  do  nothing,  say  nothing,  which  may  be  dic 
tated  by  anger."  Like  David,  be  silent,  and  do  not 
speak,  when  you  feel  that  you  are  disturbed.  "  I  was 
troubled,  and  I  spoke  not."  (Ps.  Ixxvi.  5.)  How  many 
when  inflamed  with  anger,  say  and  do  what  they  after 
wards,  in  their  cooler  moments,  regret,  and  excuse  them 
selves  by  saying  that  they  were  in  a  passion  ?  As  long, 
then,  as  anger  lasts  we  must  be  silent,  and  abstain  from 
doing  or  resolving  to  do  anything ;  for,  what  is  done  in 
the  heat  of  passion  will,  according  to  the  maxim  of  St. 
James,  be  unjust.  "  The  anger  of  man  worketh  not  the 
justice  of  God."  (i.  20.)  It  is  also  necessary  to  abstain 
altogether  from  consulting  those  who  might  foment  our 
indignation.  "Blessed,"  says  David,  "is  the  man  who 
hath  not  walked  in  the  counsel  of  the  ungodly."  (Ps.  i. 
1.)  To  him  who  is  asked  for  advice,  Ecclesiasticus  says. 
"  If  thou  blow  the  spark,  it  shall  burn  as  a  fire ;  and  if 
thou  spit  upon  it,  it  shall  be  quenched."  (Eccl.  xxviii. 
14.)  When  a  person  is  indignant  at  some  injury  which 
he  has  received,  you  may,  by  exhorting  him  to  patience, 
extinguish  the  fire  ;  but,  if  you  encourage  revenge,  you 
may  kindle  a  great  flame.  Let  him,  then,  who  feels 
himself  in  any  way  inflamed  with  anger,  be  on  his  guard 
against  false  friends,  who,  by  an  imprudent  word,  may 
be  the  cause  of  his  perdition. 

11.  Let  us  follow  the  advice  of  the  apostle  :  "  Be  not 
overcome  by  evil,  but  overcome  evil  by  good."  (Horn, 
xii.  21.)  "Be  not  overcome  by  evil:"  do  not  allow  your 
self  to  be  conquered  by  sin.  If,  through  anger,  you  seek 
revenge  or  utter  blasphemies,  you  are  overcome  by  sin. 
But  you  will  say:  "I  am  naturally  of  a  warm  temper." 
By  the  grace  of  God,  and  by  doing  violence  to  yourself, 
you  will  be  able  to  conquer  your  natural  disposition. 
Do  not  consent  to  anger,  and  you  shall  subdue  the 
warmth  of  your  temper.  But  you  say :  "  I  cannot  bear 

R 


258  SERMON   XXX IV. 

with  unjust  treatment."  In  answer  I  tell  you,  first,  to 
remember  that  anger  obscures  reason,  and  prevents  us 
from  seeing  things  as  they  are.  "Fire  hath  fallen  on 
them,  and  they  shall  not  see  the  sun."  (Ps.  Ivii.  9.) 
Secondly,  if  you  return  evil  for  evil,  your  enemy  shall 
gain  a  victory  over  you.  "  If,"  said  David,  "  I  have 
rendered  to  them  that  repaid  me  evils,  let  me  deservedly 
fall  empty  before  my  enemies."  (Ps.  vii.  5.)  If  I  render 
evil  for  evil,  I  shall  be  defeated  by  my  enemies.  "  Over 
come  evil  by  good.'"'  Render  every  foe  good  for  evil. 
"  Do  good,"  says  Jesus  Christ,  "to  them  that  hate  you." 
(Matt.  v.  44.)  This  is  the  revenge  of  the  saints,  and  is 
called  by  St.  Paulinus,  Heavenly  revenge.  It  is  by  such 
revenge  that  you  shall  gain  the  victory.  And  should 
any  of  those,  of  whom  the  Prophet  says,  "  The  venom, 
of  asps  is  under  their  lips"  (Ps.  cxxxix.  4),  ask  how  you 
can  submit  to  such  an  injury,  let  your  answer  be:  "  The 
chalice  which  my  Father  hath  given  me,  shall  I  riot 
drink  it?"  (John  xviii.  11.)  And  then  turning  to  God 
you  shall  say  :  "  I  q  ened  not  my  mouth,  because  thou 
hast  done  it"  (Ps.  xxxviii.  10),  for  it  is  certain  that 
every  cross  which  befalls  you  comes  from  the  Lord. 
*'•  Good  things  and  evil  are  from  God."  (Eccl  xi.  14.) 
Should  any  one  take  away  your  property,  recover  it  if 
you  can  ;  but  if  you  cannot,  say  with  Job  :  "  The  Lord 
gave,  and  the  Lord  hath  taken  away"  (i.  21.)  A  cer 
tain  philosopher,  who  lost  some  of  his  goods  in  a  storm, 
said :  "  If  1  have  lost  my  goods  I  will  not  lose  my  peace." 
And,  do  you  say :  If  I  have  lost  my  property,  I  will  not 
lose  my  soul. 

12.  In  tine,  when  \ve  meet  with  crosses,  persecutions, 
and  injuiies,  let  us  turn  to  God,  who  commands  us  to 
bear  them  with  patience;  and  thus  we  shall  always  avoid 
anger.  "Eemember  the  fear  of  God,  and  be  not  angry 
with  thy  neighbour."  (Eccl.  xxviii.  8.)  Let  us  give  a 
look  at  the  will  of  God,  which  disposes  things  in  this 
manner  for  our  merit,  and  anger  shall  cease.  Let  us 
give  a  look  at  Jesus  crucified,  and  we  shall  not  have 
courage  to  complain.  St.  Eleazar  being  asked  by  his 
spouse  how  he  bore  so  many  injuries  without  yielding 
to  anger,  answered  :  I  turn  to  Jesus  Christ,  and  thus  I 
preserve  my  peace.  Finally,  let  us  give  a  glance  at  our 


VANITY    OF    THE    WORLD.  259 

sins,  for  which  we  have  deserved  far  greater  contempt  and 
chastisement,  and  we  shall  calmly  submit  to  all  evils.  St. 
Augustine  says,  that  though  we  are  sometimes  innocent 
of  the  crime  for  which  we  are  persecuted,  we  are,  never 
theless,  guilty  of  other  sins  which  merit  greater  punish 
ment  than  that  which  we  endure.  "  Esto  non  habemus 
peccatum,  quod  objicitur:  habemus  tamen,  quod  digne  in 
nobis  flagelletur."  (in  Ps.  Ixviii.) 


SERMON  XXXV.— SIXTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  vanity  of  the  world. 

"And  have  nothing  to  eat." — MARK  viii.  2. 

1.  SUCH  were  the  attractions  of  our  Divine  Saviour,  and 
such  the  sweetness  with  which  he  received  all,  that  he 
drew  after  him  thousands  of  the  people.  Ho  one  day  saw 
himself  surrounded  by  a  great  multitude  of  men,  who 
followed  him  and  remained  with  him  three  days,  with 
out  eating  anything.  Touched  with  pity  for  them, 
Jesus  Christ  said  to  his  disciples:  "  I  have  compassion 
on  the  multitude  ;  for  behold  they  have  now  been  with 
me  three  days,  and  have  nothing  to  eat."  (Mark  viii.  '2.) 
He,  on  this  occasion,  wrought  the  miracle  of  the  multi 
plication  of  the  seven  loaves  and  a  few  fishes,  so  as  to 
satisfy  the  whole  multitude.  This  is  the  literal  sense ; 
but  the  mystic  sense  is,  that  in  this  world  there  is  no 
food  which  can  fill  the  desire  of  our  souls.  All  the 
goods  of  this  earth — riches,  honours,  and  pleasures — 
delight  the  sense  of  the  body,  but  cannot  satiate  the 
soul,  which  has  been  created"  for  God,  and  which  God 
alone  can  content.  I  will,  therefore  speak  to-day  on 
the  vanity  of  the  world,  and  will  show  how  great  is  the 
illusion  of  the  lovers  of  the  world,  who  lead  an  un 
happy  life  on  this  earth,  and  expose  themselves  to  the 
imminent  danger  of  a  still  more  unhappy  life  in 
eternity. 

2.  u  0  ye  sons  of  men,"  exclaims  the  Royal  Prophet, 
against  worldlings,  "how  long  will  you  be  dull  at 
heart  ?  Why  do  you  love  vanity  and  seek  after 


260  SERMON    XXXV. 


lying  ?"  (Ps.  iv.  3.)  O  men,  0  fools,  how  long  will 
you  fix  the  affections  of  your  hearts  on  this  earth  ?  why 
do  you  love  the  goods  of  this  world,  which  are  all  vanity 
and  lies  ?  Do  you  imagine  that  you  shall  find  peace  by 
the  acquisition  of  these  goods?  But  how  can  you  expect 
to  find  reace,  while  you  walk  in  the  ways  of  affliction, 
and  misery  ?  Behold  how  David  describes  the  condition 
of  worldlings.  "  Destruction  and  unhappiness  in  their 
ways;  and  the  way  of  peace  they  have  not  known."  (Ps. 
xiii.  3.)  You  hope  to  obtain  peace  from  the  world ;  but 
how  can  the  world  give  you  that  peace  which  you  seek, 
when  St.  John  says,  "  that  the  whole  world  is  seated  in 
wickedness  ?"  (1  John  v.  19.)  The  world  is  full  of  ini 
quities  ;  hence  worldlings  live  under  the  despotism  of  the 
wicked  one — that  is,  the  Devil.  The  Lord  has  declared 
that  there  is  no  peace  for  the  wicked  who  live  without 
his  grace.  "  There  is  no  peace  to  the  wicked."  (Isa. 
xlviii.  l>2.) 

3.  The  goods  of  the  world  are  but  apparent  goods, 
which  cannot  satisfy  the  heart  of  man.     "  You  have 
eater.,"  says  the  Prophet  Aggeus,  "  and  have  not  had 
enough."  "(Ag-  i.  (>.)     Instead  of  satisfying  our  hunger 
they  increase  it.     "  These,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  provoke 
rather  than  extinguish  hunger."     If  the  goods  of  this 
work!  made  men  content,  the  rich  and  powerful  should 
enjoy  complete  happiness  ;    but  experience  shows  the 
contrary.     We  see  every  day  that  they  are  the  most 
unhiippV  of  men  ;    they  appear   always   oppressed   by 
fears,  by  jealousies  and  sadness.     Listen  to  King  Solo 
mon,  who  abounded  in  these  goods :  "  And  behold  all 
is  vanity  and  vexation   of  spirit."  (Eccl.  i.  14.)     He 
tells  us,"  that  all  things  in  this  world  are  vanity,  lies, 
and  illusion.     They  are  not  only  vanity,  but  also  affliction 
of  spirit.     They  torture  the  poor  soul,  which  finds  in 
them  a  continual  source,  not  of  happiness,  but  of  afflic 
tion  and  bitterness.     This  is  a  just  punishment  on  those 
who  instead  of  serving  their  God  with  joy,  wish  to 
serve   their  enemy — the   world  —  which   makes   them 
endure  the  want  of  every  good.     "  Because  thou  didst 
not  serve  the  Lord  thy  God  with  joy  and  gladness  of 

heart thou   shaft   serve  thy  enemy  in  hunger, 

and  thirst,  and  nakedness,  and  in  want  of  all  things/* 


VANITY    OF    THE    WORLD.  261 

(Deut.  xxviii.  47,  48.)    Man  expects  to  content  his  heart 
with  the  goods  of  this  earth  ;  but,  howsoever  abundantly 
he  may  possess  them,  he  is  never  satisfied.     Hence,  he 
always  seeks  after  more  of  them,  and  is  always  unhappy. 
Oh !  happy  he  who  wishes  for  nothing  but  God  ;  for 
God  will  satisfy  all  the  desires  of  his  heart.     "  Delight 
in  the  Lord,  and  he  will  give  thee  the  requests  of  thy 
heart."    (Ps.  xxxvi.   4.)      Hence   St.   Augustine  asks: 
-'What,   0  miserable  man,  dost  thou  seek  in  seeking 
after  goods  ?     Seek  one  good,  in  which  are  all  goods." 
And,  having  dearly  learned  that  the  goods  of  this  world 
do  not  content,  but  rather  afflict  the  heart  of  man,  the 
saint,  turning  to  the  Lord,  said  :  "  All  things  are  hard, 
and  thou  alone  repose."     Hence  in  saying,  "  My  God 
and  my  all,"  the  seraphic  St.  Francis,  though  divested 
of  all  worldly  goods,  enjoyed  greater  riches  and  happi 
ness  than  an  the  worldlings  on  this  earth.     Yes  ;  for 
the  peace  which  fills  the  soul  that  desires  nothing  but 
God,  surpasses  all  the  delights  which  creatures  can  give. 
They  can  only  delight  the  senses,  but  cannot  content 
the  heart  of  man.      "  The  peace  of  God  which  sur- 
passeth  all  understanding."  (Phil.  iy.  7.)     According  to 
St.  Thomas,  the  difference  between  God,  the  sovereign 
good,  and  the  goods  of  the  earth,  consists  in  this,  that 
the  more  perfectly  we  possess  God,  the  more  ardently 
we  love  him,  because   the  more   perfectly  we  possess 
him,  the  better  we  comprehend  his  infinite  greatness, 
and  therefore  the  more  we   despise  other  things ;  but, 
when  we  possess  temporal  goods,  we  despise  them,  be 
cause  we  see  their  emptiness,  and  desire  other  things, 
which  may  make  us  content.    "  Summum  bonum  quanto 
perfectius  possidetur,  tanto  magis  amatur,  et  alia  con- 
temnuntur.      Sed   in   appetitu   temporalium   bonorum, 
quando   habentur,   contemnentur,  et   alia  appetuntur." 
(S.  Thorn,  i.  2,  qu.  2,  art.  1,  ad.  3.) 

4.  The  Prophet  Osee  tells  us  that  the  world  holds 
in  its  hand  a  deceitful  balance.  "  He  is  like  Chanaan" 
(that  is  the  world)  ;  "  there  is  a  deceitful  balance  in  his 
hand."  (Osee  xii.  7.)  We  must,  then,  weigh  things  in 
the  balance  of  God,  and  not  in  that  of  the  world,  which 
makes  them  appear  different  i'rom  what  they  are. 
What  are  the  goods  of  this  life  ?  "  My  days,'"  said 


262  SERMON    XXXV. 


Job,  "  have  been  swifter  than  a  post :  they  have  passed 
by  as  ships  carrying  fruits."  (Job  ix.  25,  26.)  The  ships 
signify  the  lives  of  men,  which  soon  pass  away,  and  run 
speedily  to  death ;  and  if  men  have  laboured  only  to 
provide  themselves  with  earthly  goods,  these  fruits  decay 
at  the  hour  of  death :  we  can  bring  none  of  them  with 
us  to  the  other  world.  We,  says  St.  Ambrose,  falsely 
call  these  things  our  property,  which  we  cannot  bring 
witli  us  to  eternity,  where  we  must  live  for  ever,  and 
where  virtue  alone  will  accompany  us.  "Non  nostra 
sunt,  quae  non  possumus  auferre  nobiscum  :  sola  virtus 
nos  comitatur."  You,  says  St.  Augustine,  attend  only 
to  what  a  rich  man  possessed ;  but  tell  me,  which  of  his 
possessions  shall  he,  now  that  he  is  on  the  point  of 
death,  be  able  to  take  with  him  ?  "  Quid  hie  habebat 
attendis,  quid  secum  fert,  atteudo  ?"  (Serm.  xiii.  de  Adv. 
Dom.)  The  rich  bring  with  them  a  miserable  garment, 
which  shall  rot  with  them  in  the  grave.  And  should 
they,  during  life,  have  acquired  a  great  name,  they  shall 
be  soon  forgotten.  "  Their  memory  hath  perished  with 
a  noise."  (Ps.  ix.  7.) 

5.  Oh  !  that  men  would  keep  before  their  eyes  that 
great  maxim  of  Jesus  Christ — "  What  doth  it  profit  a 
man,  if  he  gain  the  whole  world,  and  suffer  the  loss  of 
his  own  soul  ?"  (Matt.  xvi.  26.)  If  they  did,  they  should 
certainly  cease  to  love  the  world.  What  shall  it  profit 
them  at  the  hour  of  death  to  have  acquired  all  the  goods 
of  this  world,  if  their  souls  must  go  into  hell  to  be  in 
torments  for  all  eternity  ?  How  many  has  this  maxim, 
sent  into  the  cloister  and  into  the  desert  ?  How 
many  martyrs  has  it  encouraged  to  embrace  torments 
and  death  !  In  the  history  of  England,  we  read  of 
thirty  kings  and  queens,  who  left  the  world  and  becatne 
religious,  in  order  to  secure  a  happy  death.  The  con 
sideration  of  the  vanity  of  earthly  goods  made  St. 
Francis  Borgia  retire  from  the  world.  At  the  sight  of 
the  Empress  Isabella,  who  had  died  in  the  flower  of 
youth,  he  came  to  the  resolution  of  serving  God  alone* 
"  Is  such,  then,"  he  said,  "  the  end  of  all  the  grandeur 
and  crowns  of  this  world  ?  Henceforth  I  will  serve  a 
master  who  can  never  die."  The  day  of  death  is  called 
"  the  day  of  destruction"  ("The  day  of  destruction  is  at 


VANITY    OF    THE    WORLD.  263 

hand/'  Dout.  xxxii.  35),  because  on  that  day  we  shall 
lose  and  give  up  all  the  goods  of  the  world — all  its 
riches,  honours,  and  pleasures.  The  shade  of  death 
obscures  all  the  treasures  and  grandeurs  of  this  earth ; 
it  obscures  even  the  purple  and  the  crown.  Sister 
Margaret  of  St.  Anne,  a  Discalced  Carmelite,  and 
daughter  of  the  Emperor  Rodolph  the  Second,  used  to 
say  :  "  What  do  kingdoms  profit  us  at  the  hour  of  death  ?" 
"  The  affliction  of  an  hour  maketh  one  forget  great 
delights."  (Eccl.  xi.  29.)  The  melancholy  hour  of  death 
puts  an  end  to  all  the  delights  and  pomps  of  this  life. 
St.  Gregory  says,  that  all  goods  which  cannot  remain 
with  us,  or  which  are  incapable  of  taking  away  our 
miseries,  are  deceitful.  "  Fallaces  sunt  que  nobiscuui 
permanere  non  possunt :  fallaces  sunt  que  mentis  nostra3 
inopiam  non  expelluut."  (Horn.  xv.?  in  Luc.)  Behold  a 
sinner  whom  the  riches  and  honours  which  he  had 
acquired  made  an  object  of  envy  to  others.  Death 
came  upon  him  when  he  was  at  the  summit  of  his  glory, 
and  he  is  no  longer  what  he  was.  "  I  have  seen  the 
wicked  highly  exalted,  and  lifted  up  like  the  cedars  of 
Libanus  ;  and  I  passed  by,  and  lo  !  he  was  not ;  and  I 
sought  him,  and  his  place  was  not  found."  (Ps.  xxxvi. 
35,  38.) 

6.  These  truths  the  unhappy  damned  fruitlessly  con 
fess  in  hell,  where  they  exclaim  with  tears  :  "  What 
hath  pride  profited  us  ?  or  what  advantage  hath  the 
boasting  of  riches  brought  us  ?  All  those  things  are 
passed  away  like  a  shadow."  (Wis.  v.  8,  9.)  What, 
they  say,  have  our  pomps  and  riches  profited  us,  now 
that  they  are  all  passed  away  like  a  shadow,  and  for  us 
nothing  remains  but  eternal  torments  and  despair  ? 
Dearly  beloved  Christians,  let  us  open  our  eyes,  and 
now  that  we  have  it  in  our  power,  let  us  attend  to  the 
salvation  of  our  souls  ;  for,  if  we  lose  them,  we  shall 
not  be  able  to  save  them  in  the  next  life.  Aristippus, 
the  philosopher,  was  once  shipwrecked,  and  lost  all  his 
goods  ;  but  such  was  the  esteem  which  the  people  enter 
tained  for  him  on  account  of  his  learning,  that,  as  soon 
as  he  reached  the  shore,  they  presented  him  with  an 
equivalent  for  all  that  he  had  lost.  He  then  wrote  to 
his  friends,  and  exhorted  them  to  attend  to  the  acquisi- 


201  *FRMO:N  xxxv. 


tion  of  goods  which  cannot  be  lost  by  shipwreck.     Our 
relatives    and   friends   who   have   passed  into  eternity 
exhort  us,  from  the  other  world,  to  labour  in  this  life 
for  the  attainment  of  goods  which  are  not  lost  at  death. 
If  at  that  awful  moment  we  shall  be  found  to  have 
attended  only  to  the   accumulation  of   earthly   goods, 
\ve  shall  be  called  fools,  and  shall  receive  the  reproach 
nddressed  to  the  rich  man  in  the  gospel,  who,  after 
having  reaped  an  abundant  crop  from  his  fields,  said  to 
himself:    "  Soul,   thou   hast   much   goods   laid   up   for 
many  years  ;  take  thy  rest,  eat,  drink,  make  good  cheer. 
But*  God  said  to  him:  Thou  fool,  this  night  do  they 
require  thy  soul  of  thee  :  and  whose  shall  those  things 
be  which  thou  hast  provided  ?"  (Luke  xii.  1(J,  -0.)     He 
said,  "  they  require  thy  soul  of  thee,"  because  to  every 
man  his  soul  is  given,  not  with  full  power  to  dispose  of 
it  as  he  pleases,  but  it  is  given  to  him  in  trust,  that  he 
may  preserve  and  return  it  to  God  in  a  state  of  inno 
cence,  when  it  shall  be  presented  at  the  tribunal  of  the 
Sovereign  Judge.     The  Redeemer  concludes  this  parable 
by  saying  :  "  So  is  he  that  layeth  up  treasure  for  him 
self,   and  is  not  rich  towards  God"   (v.  21).     This  is 
what  happens  to  those  who  seek  to  CD  rich  themselves 
with  the  goods  of  this  life,  and  not  with  the  love  of 
God.     Hence  St.  Augustine  asks  :  "  What  has  the  rich 
man   if  he   has   not   charity?     If  the   poor  man  has 
charity,   what   is   there   that  he  has  not  ?"     He  that 
possesses  all  the  treasures  of  this  world,  and  has  not 
charity,  is  the  poorest  of  men  ;  but  the  poor  who  have 
God  possess  all  things,  though  they  should  be  bereft  of 
all  earthly  goods. 

7.  "  The  children  of  this  world,'*  says  Jesus  Christ, 
"  are  wiser  in  their  generation  than  the  children  of 
light."  (Luke  xvi.  8.)  0  how  wise  in  earthly  affairs  are 
worldlings,  who  live  in  the  midst  of  the  darkness  of  the 
world !  "  Behold,"  says  St.  Augustine,  "  how  much 
men  suffer  for  things  for  which  they  entertain  a  vicious 
love."  "What  fatigue  do  they  endure  for  the  acquisition 
of  property,  or  of  a  situation  of  emolument !  With  what 
care  do  they  endeavour  to  preserve  their  bodily  health  ! 
They  consult  the  best  physician,  and  procure  the  best 
medicine.  And  Christians,  who  are  the  children  of 


VANITY    OF    THE    WORLD.  265 

light,  will  take  no  pains,  will  suffer  nothing,  to  _  secure 
the  salvation  of  their  souls  !  0  God !  at  the  light  of 
the  candle  which  lights  them  to  death,  at  that  hour,  at 
that  time,  which  is  called  the  time  of  truth,  worldlings 
shall  see  and  confess  their  folly.  Then  each  ^of  ^them 
shall  exclaim  :  0  that  I  had  led  the  life  of  a  saint !  At 
the  hour  of  death,  Philip  the  Second,  King  of  Spain, 
called  in  his  son,  and  having  shown  him  his  breast  de 
voured  with  worms,  said  to  him  :  Son,  behold  how  we 
die  ;  behold  the  end  of  all  worldly  greatness.  He  then 
ordered  a  wooden  cross  to  be  fastened  to  his  neck  ;  and, 
having  made  arrangements  for  his  death,  he  turned 
again  to  his  son,  and  said  :  My  son,  I  wished  you  to  be 
present  at  this  scene,  that  you  might  understand  how 
the  world  in  the  end  treats  even  monarchs.  He  died 
saying  :  Oh,  that  I  had  been  a  lay  brother  in  some  reli 
gious  order,  and  that  I  had  not  been  a  king  !  Such  is 
the  language  at  the  hour  of  death,  even  of  the  princes 
of  the  earth,  whom  worldlings  regard  as  the  most 
fortunate  of  men.  But  these  desires  and  sights  of  regret 
serve  only  to  increase  the  anguish  and  remorse  of  the 
lovers  of  the  world  at  the  hour  of  death,  when  the  scene 
is  about  to  close. 

8.  And  what  is  the  present  life  but  a  scene,  which 
soon  passes  away  for  ever?  It  may  end  when  we  least 
expect  it.  Cassimir,  King  of  Poland,  while  he  sat  at 
table  with  his  grandees,  died  in  the  act  of  raising  a  cup 
to  take  a  draught ;  thus  the  scene  ended  for  him.  The 
Emperor  Celsus  was  put  to  death  in  seven  days  after 
his  election  ;  and  the  scene  closed  for  him.  Ladislaus, 
King  of  Bohemia,  in  his  eighteenth  year,  while  he  was 
preparing  for  the  reception  of  his  spouse,  the  daughter 
of  the  King  of  France,  was  suddenly  seized  with  a 
violent  pain,  which  took  away  his  life.  Couriers  were 
instantly  despatched  to  announce  to  her  that  the  scene 
was  over  for  Ladislaus,  that  she  might  return  to  France. 
u  The  world,"  says  Cornelius  a  Lapide,  in  his  comment 
upon  this  passage,  "  is  like  a  stage.  One  generation 
passes  away,  and  a  new  generation  comes.  The  king 
does  not  take  wiih  him  the  purple.  Tell  me,  0  villa,  O 
house,  how  many  masters  had  you  ?"  In  every  age  the 
inhabitants  of  this  earth  are  changed.  Cities  and  king- 


2G6 


SERMON    XXXVI. 


doms  are  filled  with  new  people.  The  first  generation 
passes  to  the  other  world,  a  second  comes  on,  and  this 
is  followed  by  another.  He  who,  in  the  scene  of  this 
world,  has  acted  the  part  of  a  king  is  no  longer  a  king. 
The  master  of  such  a  villa  or  palace  is  no  longer  its 
master.  Hence  the  Apostle  gives  us  the  following  ad 
vice  :  "  The  time  is  short ;  it  remaineth  that... they  that 
use  this  world  be  as  if  they  used  it  not ;  for  the  fashion 
of  this  world  passeth  away."  (I  Cor.  vii.  29,  30.)  Since 
the  time  of  our  dwelling  on  this  earth  is  short,  and  since 
all  must  end  with  our  death,  let  us  make  use  of  this 
world  to  despise  it,  as  if  it  did  not  exist  for  us  ;  and  let 
us  labour  to  acquire  the  eternal  treasures  of  Paradise, 
where,  as  the  Gospel  says,  there  are  no  moths  to  con 
sume,  nor  thieves  to  steal  them.  "  But  lay  up  to  your 
selves  treasures  in  heaven,  where  neither  the  rust  nor 
the  moth  doth  consume,  and  where  thieves  do  not  break 
through  nor  steal."  (Matt.  vi.  20.)  St.  Teresa  used  to 
say  :  "  We  should  not  set  value  on  what  ends  with  life  ; 
the  true  life  consists  in  living  in  such  a  manner  as  not 
to  be  afraid  of  death."  Death  shall  have  no  terror  for 
him  who,  during  life,  is  detached  from  the  vanities  of 
this  world,  and  is  careful  to  provide  himself  only  with 
goods  which  shall  accompany  him  to  eternity,  and  make 
him  happy  for  ever. 


SEEMON  XXXVI.— SEVENTH  SUXDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  education  of  children. 

"A  good  tree  cannot  bring  forth  evil  fruit,  neither  can  an  evil  tree 
bring  forth  good  fruit."— MATT.  vii.  18. 

THEN  the  gospel  of  this  day  tells  us,  that  a  good  plant 
cannot  produce  bad  fruit,  and  that  a  bad  one  cannot 
produce  good  fruit.  Learn  from  this,  brethren,  that  a 
good  father  brings  up  good  children.  But,  if  parents 
be  wicked,  how  can  the  children  be  virtuous?  Have 
you  ever,  says  the  Redeemer,  in  the  same  gospel,  seen 
grapes  gathered  from  thorns,  or  figs  from  thistles  ? 


EDUCATION    OF    CHILDREN.  267 

Do  men  gather  grapes  from  thorns,  or  figs  from 
thistles  ?"  (v.  16.)  And,  in  like  manner,  it  is  impossible, 
or  rather  very  difficult,  to  find  children  virtuous,  who 
are  brought  up  by  immoral  parents.  Fathers  and 
mothers,  be  attentive  to  this  sermon,  which  is  of  great 
importance  to  the  eternal  salvation  of  yourselves  and  of 
your  children.  Be  attentive,  young  men  and  young 
women,  who  have  not  as  yet  chosen  a  state  of  life.  If 
you  wish  to  marry,  learn  this  day  the  obligations  which 
you  can  contract  with  regard  to  the  education  of  your 
children  ;  and  learn  also  that,  if  you  do  not  fulfil  them, 
you  shall  bring  yourselves  and  all  your  children  to  dam 
nation.  I  shall  divide  this  sermon  into  two  points.  In 
the  first,  I  shall  show  how  important  it  is  to  bring  up 
children  in  habits  of  virtue  ;  and  in  the  second,  I  shall 
show  with  what  care  and  diligence  a  parent  ought  to 
labour  to  bring  them  up  well. 

First  Point. — How  very  important  it  is  to  bring  up 
children  in  habits  of  virtue. 

1.  A  father  owes  two  obligations  to  his  children  ;  he 
is  bound  to  provide  for  their  corporal  wants,  and  to 
educate  them  in  habits  of  virtue.  It  is  not  necessary  at 
present  to  say  more  on  the  first  obligation,  than  that 
there  are  some  fathers  more  cruel  than  the  most  ferocious 
of  wild  beasts ;  for  these  do  not  forget  to  nourish  their 
offspring  ;  _  but  certain  parents  squander  away  in  eating 
and  drinking,  and  gaming,  all  their  property,  or  all  the 
fruits  of  their  industry,  and  allow  their  children  to  die 
of  hunger.  But  let  us  come  to  the  education,  which  is 
the  subject  of  my  discourse. 

'2.  It  is  certain  that  a  child's  future  good  or  ill  con 
duct  depends  on  his  being  brought  up  well  or  ill. 
Nature  itself  teaches  every  parent  to  attend  to  the  edu 
cation  of  his  offspring.  He  who  has  given  them  being 
ought  to  endeavour  to  make  life  useful  to  them.  God 
gives  children  to  parents,  not  that  they  may  assist  the 
family,  but  that  they  may  be  brought  up  in  the  fear  of 
God,  and  be  directed  in  the  way  of  eternal  salvation. 
"  We  have,"  says  St.  Chrysostom,  "  a  great  deposit  in 
children;  let  us  attend  to  them  with  great  care."  (Horn, 
ix.,  in  1  ad  Tit.)  Children  have  not  been  given  to 


268  SERMON    XXXVT. 


parents  as  a  present,  which  they  may  dispose  of  as  they 
please,  but  as  a  trust,  for  which,  if  lost  through  their 
negligence,  they  must  render  an  account  to  God.  The 
Scripture  tells  us,  that  when  a  father  observes  the 
divine  law,  both  he  and  his  children  shall  prosper. 
"  That  it  may  be  well  with  thee  and  thy  children  after 
thee,  when  thou  shalt  do  that  which  is  pleasing  in  the 
sight  of  God."  (Deut.  xii.  25.)  The  good  or  ill  conduct 
of  a  parent  may  be  known,  by  those  who  have  not 
witnessed  it,  from  the  life  which  his  children  lead. 
"  For  by  the  fruit  the  tree  is  known/'  (Matt.  xii.  33.) 
"  A  father/'  says  Ecclcsiasticus,  "  who  leaves  a  family, 
when  he  departs  this  life,  is  as  if  he  had  not  died  ; 
because  his  sons  remain,  and  exhibit  his  habits  and 
character.  His  father  is  dead,  and  he  is  as  if  he  were 
not  dead  ;  for  he  hath  left  one  behind  him  that  is  like 
himself."  (Eccl.  xxx.  4.)  When  we  find  a  son  addicted 
to  blasphemies,  to  obscenities,  and  to  theft,  we  have 
reason  to  suspect  that  such  too  was  the  character  of  the 
father.  "  Fur  a  man  is  known  by  his  children."  (Eccl. 
xi.  30.) 

3.  Hence  Origen  says,  that  on  the  day  of  judgment 
parents  shall  have  to  render  an  account  for  all  the  sins 
<jf  their  children.  *'  Omnia  quaocumque  delinquerint 
filii,  a  parentibus  requiruntur.1'  (Grig.,  Lib.  2,  in  Job.) 
Hence,  he  who  teaches  his  son  to  live  well,  shall  die  a 
happy  and  tranquil  death.  "  He  that  teacheth  his  son 
...when  he  died  he  was  not  sorrowful,  neither  was  he 
confounded."  (Eccl.  xxx.  3,  5.)  And  he  shall  save  his 
soul  by  means  of  his  children  ;  that  is,  by  the  virtuous 
education  which  he  has  given  them.  "  She  shall  be 
.saved  through  child-bearing."  (1  Tim.  ii.  15.)  But,  on 
the  other  hand,  a  very  uneasy  and  unhappy  death  shall 
be  the  lot  of  those  who  have  laboured  only  to  increase 
the  possessions,  or  to  multiply  the  honours  of  their  family ; 
or  who  have  sought  only  to  lead  a  life  of  ease  and  plea 
sure,  but  have  not  watched  over  the  morals  of  their 
children.  St.  Paul  says,  that  such  parents  are  worse 
than  infidels.  *'  But  if  any  man  have  not  care  of  his 
own,  and  especially  of  those  of  his  house,  he  hath  denied 
the  faith,  and  is  worse  than  an  infidel."  (1  Tim.  v.  8.) 
"Were  fathers  or  mothers  to  lead  a  life  of  piety  and  con- 


EDUCATION    OF    CHILDREN.  269 

tinual  prayer,  and  to  communicate  every  day,  they 
should  be  damned  if  they  neglected  the  care  of  their 
children.  "Would  to  God  that  certain  parents  paid  as 
much  attention  to  their  children  as  they  do  to  their 
horses  !  How  careful  are  they  to  see  that  their  horses 
are  fed  and  well  trained  !  And  they  take  no  pains  to 
make  their  children  attend  at  catechism,  hear  mass,  or 
go  to  confession.  "  We  take  more  care/'  says  St.  Chry- 
sostom,  "  of  our  asses  and  horses,  than  of  the  children/' 
(Horn,  x.,  in  Matt.) 

4.  If  all  fathers  fulfilled  their  duty  of  watching  over 
the  education  of  their  children,  we  should  have  but  few 
crimes   and   few   executions.       By   the   bad   education 
which  parents  give  to  their  offspring,  they  cause  their 
children,  says  St.  Chrysostom,  to  rush  into  many  grie 
vous  vices ;  and  thus  they  deliver  them  up  to  the  hands 
of  the  executioner.     "  Majoribus  illos  malis  involvimus, 
et  carnih'cum  manibus  damns."  (Serin,  xx.,  de  divers.) 
Hence,  in  Lacedemon,  a  parent,  as  being  the  cause  of 
all  the  irregularities  of  his  children,  was  justly  punished 
for  their  crimes  with  greater  severity  than  the  children 
themselves.      Great   indeed   is   the   misfortune    of  the 
child  that  has  vicious  parents,   who  are  incapable   of 
bringing  up  their  children  in  the  fear  of  God,  and  who, 
when   they   see   their   children   engaged   in   dangerous 
friendships  and  in   quarrels,   instead  of  correcting  and 
chastising  them,  rather  take  compassion  on  them,  and 
say :  "  What  can  be  done  ?     They  are  young ;  they  must 
take  their  course."     Oh !  what  wicked  maxims !  what 
a  cruel  education  !     Do  you  hope  that  when  your  chil 
dren  grow   up  they  shall  become   saints  ?      Listen  to 
what  Solomon  says :  "  A  young  man,  according  to  his 
way,  even  when  he  is  old,  he  will  not  depart  from  it." 
(Prov.  xxii.  6.)     A  young  man  who  has  contracted  a 
habit  of  sin  will  not  abandon  it  even  in  his  old  age. 
"  His  bones,"  says  Job,  "  shall  be  filled  with  the  vices 
of  his  youth,  and  they  shall  sleep  with  him  in  the  dust." 
(Job  xx.  11.)     When  a  young  person  has  lived  in  evil 
habits,  his  bones  shall  be  filled  with  the  vices  of  his 
youth,  so  that  he  will  carry  them  with  him  to  death ; 
and  the  impurities,  blasphemies,  and  hatred  to  which  he 
was  accustomed  in  his  youth,  shall  accompany  him  to 


270  SERMON    XXXVI. 


the  grave,  and  shall  sleep  -with  him  after  his  bones  shall 
be  reduced  to  dust  and  ashes.  It  is  very  easy,  when 
they  are  small,  to  train  up  children  to  habits  of  virtue  ; 
but,  when  they  have  come  to  manhood,  it  is  equally 
difficult  to  correct  them,  if  they  have  learned  habits  of 
vice.  JBut,  let  us^come  to  the  second  point — that  is,  to 
the  means  of  bringing  up  children  in  the  practice  of 
virtue.  I  entreat  you,  fathers  and  mothers,  to  remem 
ber  what  I  now  say  to  you  ;  for  on  it  depends  the  eternal 
salvation  of  your  own  souls,  and  of  the  souls  of  your 
children. 

Second  Point. — On  the  care  and  diligence  with  which 
parents  ought  to  endeavour  to  bring  up  their  children  in 
habits  of  virtue. 

5.  St.  Paul  teaches  sufficiently,  in  a  few  words,  in 
what  the  proper  education  of  children  consists.  lie  sa)rs 
that  it  consists  in  discipline  and  correction.  "  And  you, 
fathers,  provoke  not  your  children  to  anger ;  but  bring 
them  up  in  the  discipline  and  correction  of  the  Lord." 
(Ephes.  vi.  4  )^  Discipline,  which  is  the  same  as  the  re 
ligious  regulation  of  the  morals  of  children,  implies  an 
obligation  of  educating  them  in  habits  of  virtue  by  word 
and  example.  First,  by  words :  a  good  father  should 
often  assemble  his  children,  and  instil  into  them  the  holy 
fear  of  God.  It  was  in  this  manner  that  Tobias  brought 
up  his  little  son.  The  father  taught  him  from  his  child 
hood  to  fear  the  Lord  and  to  %  from  sin.  "  And  from 
his  infancy  he  taught  him  to  fear  God  and  to  abstain 
from  sin/'  (Tob.  i.  10.)  The  Wise  Man  says  that  a  well 
educated  son  is  the  support  and  consolation  of  his  father. 
"  Instruct  thy  son,  and  he  shall  refresh  thee,  and  shall 
give  delight  to  thy  soul."  (Prov.  xxix.  J7.)  But,  as  a 
weU  instructed  son  is  the  delight  of  his  father's  soul,  so 
an  ignorant  child  is  a  source  of  sorrow  to  a  father's 
heart ;  for  the  ignorance  of  his  obligations  as  a  Christian 
is  always  accompanied  with  a  bad  life.  Cantipratensis 
relates  (lib.  1,  cap.  20)  that,  in  the  year  1248,  an  igno 
rant  priest  was  commanded,  in  a  certain  synod,  to  make 
a  discourse.  But  while  he  was  greatly  agitated  by  the 
command,  the  devil  appeared  to  him,  and  instructed 
him  to  say  :  "  The  rectors  of  infernal  darkness  salute 
the  rectors  of  parishes,  and  thank  them  for  their  negli- 


EDUCATION    OF    CHILDREN.  271 


gence  in  instructing  the  people  ;  because  from  ignorance 
proceed  the  misconduct  and  the  damnation  of  many." 
The  same  is  true  of  negligent  parents.  In  the  first 
place,  a  parent  ought  to  instruct  his  children  in  the 
truths  of  faith,  and  particularly  in  the  four  principal 
mysteries.  First,  that  there  is  hut  one  God,  the  Creator, 
and  Lord  of  all  things  ;  secondly,  that  this  God  is  a  remu- 
nerator,  who,  in  the  next  life,  shall  reward  the  good  with 
the  eternal  glory  of  Paradise,  and  shall  punish  the  wicked 
with  the  everlasting  torments  of  hell;  thirdly,  the 
mystery  of  the  holy  Trinity — that  is,  that  in  God  there 
are  Three  Persons,  who  are  only  one  God,  because  they 
have  but  one  essence ;  fourthly,  the  mystery  of  the 
incarnation  of  the  Divine  Word — the  Son  of  God,  and 
true  God,  who  became  man  in  the  womb  of  Mary, 
and  suffered  and  died  for  our  salvation.  Should  a  father 
or  a  mother  say  :  I  myself  do  not  know  these  mysteries, 
can  such  an  excuse  be  admitted  ? — that  is,  can  one  sin 
excuse  another  ?  If  you  are  ignorant  of  these  mysteries 
you  are  obliged  to  learn  them,  and  afterwards  teach  them 
to  your  children.  At  least,  send  your  children  to  the 
catechism.  Oh  !  what  a  misery  to  see  so  many  fathers 
and  mothers  who  are  unable  to  instruct  their  children  in 
the  most  necessary  truths  of  faith,  and  who,  instead  of 
sending  their  sons  and  daughters  to  the  Christian  doctrine 
on  festivals,  employ  them  in  messages,  or  other  occupa 
tions  of  little  moment ;  and  when  grown  up  they  know 
not  what  is  meant  by  mortal  sin,  by  hell,  or  eternity. 
They  do  not  even  know  the  Creed,  the  Pater  Noster,  or 
the  Hail  Mary,  which  every  Christian  is  bound  to  learn 
under  pain  of  mortal  sin. 

6.  Religious  parents  not  only  instruct  their  children 
in  these  things,  which  are  the  most  important,  but  they 
also  teach  them  the  acts  which  ought  to  be  made  every 
morning  after  rising.  They  teach  them,  first,  to  thank 
God  for  having  preserved  their  life  during  the  night ; 
secondly,  to  offer  to  God  all  the  good  actions  which  they 
will  pertorm,  and  all  the  pains  which  they  shall  suffer 
during  the  day  ;  thirdly,  to  implore  of  Jesus  Christ  and 
most  holy  Mary  to  preserve  them  from  all  sin  during 
the  day.  They  teach  them  to  make  every  evening  an 
examen  of  conscience  and  an  act  of  contrition.  They 


272  SERMON    XXXVI. 


also  teach  them  to  make  every  day  the  acts  of  Faith, 
Hope,  and  Charity,  to  recite  the  Rosary,  and  to  visit  the 
hlessed  Sacrament.  Some  good  fathers  of  families  are 
careful  to  get  a  hook  of  meditations  read,  and  to  have 
mental  prayer  in  common  for  half  an  hour  every  day. 
This  is  what  the  Holy  Ghost  exhorts  you  to  practise. 
"  Hast  thou  children  ?  Instruct  them  and  bow  down 
their  neck  from  their  childhood."  (Eccl.  vii.  25.)  En 
deavour  to  train  them  from  their  infancy  to  these  reli 
gious  hahits,  and  when  they  grow  up  they  shall  persevere 
in  them.  Accustom  them  also  to  go  to  confession  and 
communion  every  week.  Be  careful  to  make  them  go  to 
confession  when  they  arrive  at  the  age  of  seven,  and  to- 
communion  at  the  age  of  ten.  This  is  the  advice  of  St. 
Charles  Borromeo.  As  soon  as  they  attain  the  use  of 
reason  make  them  receive  the  sacrament  of  confir 
mation. 

7.  It  is  also  very  useful  to  infuse  good  maxims  into 
the  infant  minds  of  children.     Oh  !  what  ruin  is  brought 
upon  his  children  by  the  father  who  teaches  them  worldly 
maxims  !     "  You  must,"  some  people  say  to  their  chil 
dren,  "  seek  the  esteem  and  applause  of  the  world.    God 
is   merciful ;    he   takes    compassion   on   certain   sins." 
Miserable  the  young  man  who  sins  in  obedience  to  such 
maxims.     Good  parents  teach  very  different  maxims  to 
their  children.     Queen  Blanche,  the  mother  of  St.  Louis, 
King  of  France,  used  to  say  to  him:  b<  My  son,  I  would 
rather  see  you  dead  in  my  arms  than  in  the  state  of  sin." 
Oh  !  brethren,  let  it  be  your  practice  also  to  infuse  into 
your  children  certain   maxims   of  salvation,    such   as, 
*'  What  will  it  profit  us  to  gain  the  whole  world,  if  we 
lose  our  own  souls  ?     Every  thing  on  this  earth  has  an 
end  ;  but  eternity  never  ends.     Let  all  be  lost,  provided 
God  is  not  lost."     One  of  these  maxims  well  impressed 
on  the  mind  of  a  young  person  will  preserve  him  always 
in  the  grace  of  God. 

8.  But  parents  are  obliged  to  instruct  their  children 
in  the  practice  of  virtue,  not  only  by  words,  but  still 
more  by  example.     If  you  give  your  children  bad  ex 
ample,  how  can  you  expect  that  they  will  lead  a  good 
life  ?     When  a  dissolute  young  man  is  corrected  for  a 
fault,  he  answers :  Why  do  you  censure  me,  when  my 


EDUCATION   OF    CHILDREN.  273 

father  does  worse.  "  The  children  will  complain  of  an 
ungodly  father,  because  for  his  sake  they  are  in  re 
proach/'  (Eccl.  xli.  10.)  How  is  it  possible  for  a  son 
to  be  moral  and  religious,  when  he  has  had  the  example 
of  a  father  who  was  accustomed  to  utter  blasphemies  and 
obscenities  ;  who  spent  the  entire  day  in  the  tavern,  ia 
gaming  and  drunkenness  ;  who  was  in  the  habit  of  fre 
quenting  houses  of  bad  fame,  and  of  defrauding  his 
neighbour  ?  Do  you  expect  that  your  son  will  go  fre 
quently  to  confession,  when  you  yourself  approach  the 
tribunal  of  penance  scarcely  once  a  year  ?  Children  are 
like  apes  ;  they  do  what  they  see  .their  parents  do.  It  is 
related  in  the  fables,  that  a  crab-fish  one  day  rebuked  its 
young  for  walking  crookedly.  They  replied  :  Father,  let 
us  see  you  walk.  The  father  walked  before  them  more 
crookedly  than  they  did.  This  is  what  happens  to  the 
parent  who  gives  bad  example.  Hence,  he  has  not  even 
courage  to  correct  his  children  for  the  sins  which  he 
himself  commits. 

9.  But  though  he  should  correct  them,  by  words,  of 
what  use  is  his  correction  when  he  sets  them  a  bad  ex 
ample  by  his  acts  ?  It  has  been  said  in  the  council  of 
Bishops,  that  "  men  believe  the  eyes  rather  than  the 
ears."  And  St.  Ambrose  says  :  "  The  eyes  convince  me 
of  what  they  see  more  quickly  than  the  ear  can  in 
sinuate  what  is  past."  (Serm.  xxiii.,  de  S.  S.)  According 
to  St.  Thomas,  scandalous  parents  compel,  in  a  certain 
manner,  their  children  to  lead  a  bad  life.  "  Eos  ad 
peccatum,  quantum  in  eis  fuit  obligaverunt"  (in  Ps. 
STL).  They  are  not,  says  St.  Bernard,  fatheis,  but 
murderers  ;  they  kill,  not  the  bodies,  but  the  souls  of 
their  children.  "  Non  parentes,  sed  peremptores."  It 
is  useless  for  them  to  say :  "  My  children  have  been  bora 
with  bad  dispositions."  This  is  not  true  ;  for,  as  Seneca 
says,  "  you  err,  if  you  think  that  vices  are  born  with 
us  ;  they  have  been  engrafted."  (Ep.  xciv.)  Vices  are 
not  born  with  your  children,  but  have  been  communi 
cated  to  them  by  the  bad  example  of  the  parents.  If 
you  had  given  good  example  to  your  sons,  they  should 
not  be  so  vicious  as  they  are.  O  brethren,  frequent  the 
sacraments,  assist  at  sermons,  recite  the  Rosary  every 
day,  abstain  from  all  obscene  language,  from,  detraction, 


274  SERMON  xxxvi. 


and  from  quarrels  ;  and  you  shall  see  that  your  sons 
will  go  often  to  confession,  will  assist  at  sermons,  will 
say  the  Rosary,  will  speak  modestly,  and  will  fly  from 
detraction  and  disputes.  It  is  particularly  necessary  to 
train  up  children  to  virtue  in  their  infancy  :  "  Bow  down 
their  neck  from  their  childhood  ;"  for  when  ^they  have 
grown  up  and  contracted  bad  hahits,  it  will  be  very 
difficult  lor  you  to  produce,  by  words,  any  amendment 
in  their  lives. 

10.  To  bring  up  children  in  the  discipline  of  the 
Lord,  it  is  also  necessary  to  take  away  from  them  the 
occasion  of  doing  evil.  Hence  a  father  must,  in  the 
first  place,  forbid  his  children  to  go  out  at  night,  or  to 
go  to  a  house  in  which  their  virtue  might  be  exposed  to 
danger,  or  to  keep  bad  company.  "  Cast  out,"  said 
Sarah  to  Abraham,  "  this  bondwoman  and  her  son." 
(Gen.  xxi.  10.)  She  wished  to  have  Ishmael,  the  son  of 
Agar  the  bondwoman,  banished  from  her  hou^e,  that  her 
son  Isaac  might  not  learn  his  vicious  habits.  Bad  com 
panions  are  the  ruin  of  young  persons.  A  father  should 
not  only  remove  the  evil  which  he  witnesses,  but  he  is 
also  bound  to  inquire  after  the  conduct  of  his  children, 
and  to  seek  information  from  domestics  and  from  cxterns 
regarding  the  places  which  his  sons  frequent  when  they 
leave  home,  regarding  their  occupations  and  companions. 
Secondly,  he  should  take  from  them  every  musical 
instrument  which  is  to  them  an  occasion  of  going  out  at 
night,  and  all  forbidden  weapons  which  may  lead  them 
into  quarrels  or  disputes.  Thirdly,  he  should  dismiss 
all  immoral  servants  ;  and,  if  his  sons  be  grown  up,  he 
should  not  keep  in  his  house  any  young  female  servant. 
Some  parents  pay  little  attention  to  this ;  and  when  the 
evil  happens  they  complain  of  their  children,  as  if  they 
expected  that  tow  thrown  into  the  fire  should  not  burn. 
Fourthly,  a  father  ought  to  forbid  his  children  ever  to 
bring  into  his  house  stolen  goods — such  as  fowl,  fruit, 
and  the  like.  When  Tobias  heard  the  bleating  of  a  goat 
in  his  house,  he  said  :  "  Take  heed,  lest  perhaps  it  be 
stolen  ;  restore  ye  it  to  its  owners."  (Tob.  li.  '21.)  How 
often  does  it  happen  that,  when  a  child  steals  something, 
the  mother  says  to  him  :  "  Bring  it  to  me,  my  sou." 
Parents  should  prohibit  to  their  children  all  games  which 


EDUCATION    OF    CHILDREN.  275 

bring  destruction  on  their  families  and  on  their  own 
souls,  and  also  masks,  scandalous  comedies,  and  certain, 
dangerous  conversations  and  parties  of  pleasure.    Fifthly, 
a  father  should  remove  from  his  house  romances,  which 
pervert  young  persons,  and  all  bad  books  which  contain 
pernicious  maxims,  tales  of  obscenity,  or  of  profane  love. 
Sixthly,  he  ought  not  to  allow  his  children  to  sleep  in 
his  own  bed,  nor  the  males  and  females  to  sleep  toge 
ther.     Seventhly,  he  should  not  permit  his  daughters  to 
be  alone  with  men,  whether  young  or  old.     But  some 
will  say  :  "  Such  a  man  teaches  my  daughters  to  read 
and  write,   etc.  ;    he  is  a   saint."     The   saints   are   in 
heaven  ;  but  the  saints  that  are  on  earth  are  flesh,  and 
by    proximate     occasions    they    may     become    devils. 
Eighthly,   if  he  has  daughters,  he  should  not  permit 
young  men  to  frequent  his  house.     To  get  their  daugh 
ters  married,  some  mothers  invite  young  men  to  their 
houses.     They  are  anxious  to  see  their  daughters  mar 
ried  ;  but  they  do  not  care  to  see  them  in  sin.     These 
are  the  mothers  who,  as  David  says,  immolate  their 
daughters  to  the  devil.     "  They  sacrifice  their  sons  and 
their  daughters  to  devils."  (Ps.  cv.  37.)     And  to  excuse 
themselves  they  will  say:    "  Father,  there  is  no  harm  in 
what  I  do."  There  is  no  harm  !    Oh  !  how  many  mothers 
shall  we  see  condemned  on  the  day  of  judgment  on 
account  of  their  daughters  !    The  conduct  of  such  mothers 
is  at  least  a  subject  of  conversation  among  their  neigh 
bours  and  equals  ;  and,  for  all,  the  parents  must  render 
an  account  to  God.     O  fathers  and  mothers !  confess  all 
the  sins  you  have  committed  in  this  respect,  before  the 
day  on  which  you  shall  be  judged  arrives. 

11.  Another  obligation  of  parents  is,  to  correct  the 
faults  of  the  family.  "  Bring  them  up  in  the  discipline 
and  correction  of  the  Lord/'  There  are  fathers  and 
mothers  who  witness  faults  in  the  family,  and  remain 
silent.  A  certain  mother  was  in  the  habit  of  acting  in 
this  manner.  Her  husband  one  day  took  a  stick  and 
began  to  beat  her  severely.  She  cried  out,  and  said:  "I 
am  doing  nothing.  Why  do  you  beat  me  ?"  "I  beat  you/' 
replied  the  husband,  "  because  you  see,  and  do  not  cor 
rect,  the  faults  of  the  children — because  you  do  nothing." 
Through  fear  of  displeasing  their  children  some  fathers 


276  SERMON  xxxvii. 


neglect  to  correct  them ;  but,  if  you  saw  your  son  falling 
into  a  pool  of  water,  and  in  danger  of  being  drowned, 
would  it  not  be  savage  cruelty  not  to  catch  him  by  the 
hair  and  save  his  life  ?     "  He  that  spareth  the  rod  hateth 
his  son."  (Prov.  xiii.  24.)     If  you  love  your  sons  correct 
them,  and,  while  they  are  growing  up  chastise  them, 
even  with  the  rod,  as  often  as  it  may  be  necessary.     I 
say,  "  with  the  rod,"  but  not  with  the  stick  ;  for  you 
must  correct  them  like  a  father,  and  not  like  a  galley 
sergeant.     You  must  be  careful  not  to  beat  them  when 
you  are  in  a  passion  ;  for,  you  shall  then  be  in  danger 
of  beating  them  with  too  much  severity,  and  the  correc 
tion  will  be  without  fruit ;  for  they  then  believe  that  the 
chastisement  is  the  effect  of  anger,  and  not  of  a  desire 
on  your  part  to  see  them  amend  their  lives.     I  have 
also  said  that  you  should  correct  them  u  while  they  are 
growing  up  ;"  for,  when  they  arrive  at  manhood,  your 
correction  will  be  of  little  use.     You  must  then  abstain 
from  correcting  them  with  the  hand;  otherwise,   they 
shall  hecome  more  perverse,  and  shall  lose  their  respect 
for  you.     But  of  what  use  is  it  to  correct  children  by  so 
many  injurious  words  and  by  so  many  imprecations? 
Deprive  them  of  some  part  of  their  meals,  of  certain 
articles  of  dress,  or  shut  them  up  in  a  room.     But  I 
have  said  enough.     Dearly  beloved  brethren,  draw  from 
the  discourse  which  you  have  heard  the  conclusion,  that 
he  who  has  brought  up  his  children  badly   shall   be 
severely  punished ;  and  that  he  who  has  trained  them 
to  habits  of  virtue  shall  receive  a  great  reward. 


SERMON  XXXVIL-EIGHTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  particular  judgment. 

11  Give  an  account  of  thy  stewardship." — LUKE  xvi.  2. 

BELOVED  Christians,  of  all  the  goods  of  nature,  of  fortune, 
and  of  grace,  which  we  have  received  from  God,  we 
are  not  the  masters,  neither  can  we  dispose  of  them  as 


PARTICULAR   JUDGMENT.  277 

we  please  ;  we  are  but  the  administrators  of  them  ;  and 
therefore  we  should  employ  them  according  to  the  will 
of  God,  who  is  our  Lord.  Hence,  at  the  hour  of  death, 
we  must  render  a  strict  account  of  them  to  Jesus  Christ, 
our  Judge.  "  For  we  must  all  be  manifested  before  the 
judgment  seat  of  Christ,  that  every  one  may  receive  the 
proper  things  of  the  body  as  he  hath  done,  whether  it 
be  good  or  evil."  (2  Cor.  v.  10.)  This  is  the  precise 
meaning  of  that  "  give  an  account  of  thy  stewardship," 
in  the  gospel  of  this  day.  "  You  are  not,"  says  St. 
Bonaventure,  in  his  comment  on  these  words,  "  a  master, 
but  a  steward  over  the  things  committed  to  you ;  and 
therefore  you  are  to  render  an  account  of  them."  I  will 
place  before  your  eyes  to-day  the  rigour  of  this  judg 
ment,  which  shall  be  passed  on  each  of  us  on  the  last  day 
of  our  life.  Let  us  consider  the  terror  of  the  soul,  first, 
when  we  shall  be  presented  to  the  Judge ;  secondly, 
when  she  shall  be  examined ;  and  thirdly,  when  she 
shall  be  condemned. 

First  Point. — Terror  of  the  soul  when  she  shall  be 
presented  to  the  Judge. 

] .  "It  is  appointed  unto  men  once  to  die,  and  after 
this  the  judgment."  (Heb.  ix.  27.)  It  is  of  faith  that 
we  shall  die,  and  that  after  death  a  judgment  shall  be 
passed  on  all  the  actions  of  our  life.  JSTow,  what  shall 
be  the  terror  of  each  of  us  when  we  shall  be  at  the 
point  of  death,  and  shall  have  before  our  eyes  the  judg 
ment  which  must  take  place  the  very  moment  the  soul 
departs  from  the  body?  Then  shall  be  decided  our 
doom  to  eternal  life,  or  to  eternal  death.  At  the  time 
of  the  passage  of  their  souls  from  this  life  to  eternity, 
the  sight  of  their  past  sins,  the  rigour  of  God's  judg 
ment,  and  the  uncertainty  of  their  eternal  salvation, 
have  made  the  saints  tremble.  St.  Mary  Magdalene  de 
Pazzia  trembled  in  her  sickness,  through  the  fear  of 
judgment ;  and  to  her  confessor,  when  he  endeavoured 
to  give  her  courage,  she  said  :  "Ah!  father,  it  is  a  terrible 
thing  to  appear  before  Christ  in  judgment."  After  spend 
ing  so  many  years  in  penance  in  the  desert,  St.  Agatho 
trembled  at  the  hour  of  death,  and  said :  "  What  shall 
become  of  me  when  I  shall  be  judged  ?"  The  venerable 


278  SERMON    XXXVII. 


Father  Louis  da  Ponte  was  seized  with  such  a  fit  of 
trembling  at  the  thought  of  the  account  which  he  should 
render  to  God,  that  he  shook  the  room  in  which  he  lay. 
The  thought  of  judgment  inspired  the  venerable  Juvenal 
Ancina,  Priest  of  the  Oratory,  and  afterwards  Bishop 
of  Saluzzo,  with  the  determination  to  leave  the  world. 
Hearing  the  Dies  Ircc  sung,  and  considering  the  terror 
of  the  soul  when  presented  before  Jesus  Christ,  the 
Judge,  he  took,  and  afterwards  executed,  the  resolution 
of  giving  himself  entirely  to  God. 

2.  It  is  the  common  opinion  of  theologians,  that  at 
the  very  moment  and  in  the  very  place  in  which  the 
soul  departs  from  the  body,  the  divine  tribunal  is 
erected,  the  accusation  is  read,  and  the  sentence  is 
passed  by  Jesus  Christ,  the  Judge.  At  this  terrible 
tribunal  each  of  us  shall  be  presented  to  give  an  account 
of  all  our  thoughts,  of  all  our  words,  and  of  all  our 
actions.  "  For  we  must  all  be  manifested  before  the 
judgment  seat  of  Christ,  that  every  one  may  receive  the 
proper  things  of  the  body,  according  as  he  hath  done, 
whether  it  be  good  or  evil."  ('2  Cor.  v.  10.)  When  pre 
sented  before  an  earthly  judge  criminals  have  been  seen 
to  fall  into  a  cold  sweat  through  fear.  It  is  related  of 
Piso,  that  so  great  and  insufferable  was  the  confusion, 
which  he  felt  at  the  thought  of  appearing  as  a  criminal 
before  the  senate  that  he  killed  himself.  How  great  is 
the  pain  of  a  vassal,  or  of  a  son,  in  appearing  before  an 
angry  prince  or  an  enraged  father,  to  account  for  some 
crime  which  he  has  committed !  Oh !  how  much  greater 
shall  be  the  pain  and  confusion  of  the  soul  in  standing, 
before  Jesus  Christ  enraged  against  her  for  having  de 
spised  him  during  her  life!  Speaking  of  judgment,  St. 
Luke  says:  "Then  you  shall  see  the  Son  of  Man." 
(Luke  xxi.  27.)  They  shall  see  Jesus  Christ  as  man,, 
with  the  same  wounds  with  which  he  ascended  into 
heaven.  " Great  joy  of  the  beholders !"  says  llobert  the 
Abbot,  "  a  great  terror  of  those  who  are  in  expectation !" 
These  wounds  shall  console  the  just,  and  shall  terrify  the 
wicked.  In  them  sinners  shall  see  the  Redeemer's  love 
for  themselves,  and  their  ingratitude  to  him. 

o.  "  Who,"  says  the  Prophet  Nahum,  "  can  stand 
before  the  face  of  his  indignation  ?"  (i.  6.)  How  great,. 


PARTICULAR    JUDGMENT.  279 

then,  shall  be  the  terror  of  a  soul  that  finds  herself  in 
sin  before  this  Judge,  the  first  time  she  shall  see  him,  and 
see  him  full  of  wrath !  St.  Basil  says  that  she  shall  be 
tortured  more  by  her  shame  and  confusion  than  by  the 
very  fire  of  hell.  "  Horridior  quam  ignis,  erit  pudor." 
Philip  the  Second  rebuked  one  of  his  domestics  for 
having  told  him  a  lie.  "  Is  it  thus,"  said  the  king  to 
him,  "  you  deceive  me  ?"  The  domestic,  after  having 
returned  home,  died  of  grief.  The  Scripture  tells  us, 
that  when  Joseph  reproved  his  brethren,  saying:  "  I  am. 
Joseph,  whom  you  sold,"  they  were  unable  to  answer 
through  fear,  and  remained  silent.  "  His  brethren  could 
not  answer  him,  being  struck  with  exceeding  great 
fear."  (Gen.  xlv.  3.)  Now  what  answer  shall  sinners 
make  to  Jesus  Christ  when  he  shall  say  to  them  :  I  am 
your  Redeemer  and  your  Judge,  whom  you  have  so 
much  despised.  Where  shall  the  miserable  beings  fly, 
says  St.  Augustine,  when  they  shall  see  an  angry  Judge 
above,  hell  open  below,  on  one  side  their  own  sins  accus 
ing  them,  and  on  the  other  the  devils  dragging  them  to 
punishment,  and  their  conscience  burning  them  within^? 
"  Above  shall  be  an  enraged  Judge — below,  a  horrid 
chaos — on  the  right,  sins  accusing  him — on  the  left, 
demons  dragging  him  to  punishment — within,  a  burning 
conscience  !  Whither  shall  a  sinner,  beset  in  this 
manner,  fly  ?"  Perhaps  he  will  cry  for  mercy  ?  But 
how,  asks  Eusebius  Emissenus,  can  he  dare  to  implore 
mercy,  when  he  must  first  render  an  account  of  his 
contempt  for  the  mercy  which  Jesus  Christ  has  shown 
to  him  ?  "  With  what  face  will  you,  who  are  to  be 
first  judged  for  contempt  of  mercy,  ask  for  mercy?" 
But  let  us  come  to  the  rendering  of  the  accounts. 

Second  Point. — Terror  of  the  soul  when  she  shall  be 
examined. 

4.  As  soon  as  the  soul  shall  be  presented  before  the 
tribunal  of  Jesus  Christ,  he  will  say  to  her  :  "  Give  an 
account  of  thy  stewardship:"  render  instantly  an  account 
of  thy  entire  life.  The  Apostle  tells  us,  that  to  be 
worthy  of  eternal  glory  our  lives  must  be  found  con 
formable  to  the  life  of  Jesus  Christ.  "  For  whom  he 
foreknew,  he  also  predestinated  to  be  made  conformable 


280  SERMON    XXXVII. 


to  the  image  of  his  son  ;...them  he  also  glorified."  (Rom. 
viii.  29,  30.)  Hence  St.  Peter  has  said,  that  in  the 
judgment  of  Jesus  Christ,  the  just  man  who  has  observed 
the  divine  law,  has  pardoned  enemies,  has  respected  the 
saints,  has  practised  chastity,  meekness,  and  other 
virtues,  shall  scarcely  be  saved.  "  The  just  man  shall 
scarcely  be  saved."  The  Apostle  adds:  "Where  shall 
the  ungodly  and  the  sinner  appear  ?"  (1  Pet.  iv.  18.) 
What  shall  become  of  the  vindictive  and  the  unchaste, 
of  blasphemers  and  slanderers  ?  What  shall  become  of 
those  whose  entire  life  is  opposed  to  the  lite  of  Jesus 
Christ  ? 

5.  In  the  first  place,  the  Judge  shall  demand  of  sin 
ners  an  account  of  all  the  blessings  and  graces  which  he 
bestowed  on  thorn  in  order  to  bring  them  to  salvation, 
and  which  they  have  rendered  fruitless.  He  will  demand 
r.n  account  of  the  years  granted  to  them  that  they  might 
serve  God,  and  which  they  have  spent  in  offending  him. 
"  He  hath  called  against  me  the  time."  (Lam.  i.  15.)  He 
will  then  demand  an  account  of  their  sins.  Sinners 
commit  sins,  and  afterwards  forget  them  ;  but  Jesus 
Christ  does  not  forget  them  :  he  keeps,  as  Job  says,  all 
our  iniquities  numbered,  as  it  were  in  a  bag.  *•  Thou 
hast  sealed  up  my  iniquities,  as  it  were  in  a  bag."  (Job 
xiv.  17.)  And  he  tells  us  that,  on  the  day  of  accounts, 
he  will  take  a  lamp  to  scrutinize  all  the  actions  of  our 
life.  "  And  it  shall  come  to  pass  at  that  time,  that  I 
will  search  Jerusalem  with  lamps."  (Soph.  i.  12.)  The 
lamp,  says  Mendoza  on  this  passage,  penetrates  all  the 
corners  of  the  house— that  is,  God  will  discover  all  the 
defects  of  our  conscience,  great  and  small.  According  to 
St.  Anselm,  an  account  shall  be  demanded  of  every  glance 
ofthee^es.  "  Exigitur  usque  ad  ictum  oculi."  And, 
according  to  St.  Matthew,  of  every  idle  word.  "  Every 
idle  word  that  men  shall  speak,  they  shall  render  an 
account  for  it  on  the  day  of  judgment."  (Matt.  xii.  36.) 

6.  The  Prophet  Malachy  says,  that  as  gold  is  refined 
by  taking  away  the  dross,  so  on  the  day  of  judgment 
all  our  actions  shall  be  examined,  and  every  defect 
which  may  be  discovered  shall  be  punished.  "  He  shall 
purify  the  sons  of  Levi,  and  shall  refine  them  as  gold." 
(Mai.  iii.  3.)  Even  our  justices — that  is,  our  good  works, 


PARTICULAR   JUDGMENT.  281 

confessions,  communions,  and  prayers — shall  be  exa 
mined.  "  When  I  shall  take  a  time,  I  will  judge 
justices."  (Ps.  Ixxiv.  3.)  But  if  every  glance,  every  idle 
word,  and  even  good  works,  shall  be  judged,  with  what 
rigour  shall  immodest  expressions,  blasphemies,  grievous 
detractions,  thefts,  and  sacrileges  be  judged  ?  Alas  !  on 
that  day  every  soul  shall,  as  St.  Jerome  says,  see,  to  her 
own  confusion,  all  the  evils  which  she  has  done. 
"  Yidebit  unusquisque  quod  fecit." 

7.  "  Weight  and  balance  are  judgments  of  the  Lord/' 
(Prov.  xvi.  11.)     In  the  balance  of  the  Lord  a  holy  life 
and  good  works  make  the  scale  descend ;  but  nobility, 
wealth,  and  science  have  no  weight.     Hence,  if  found 
innocent,  the  peasant,  the  poor,  and  the  ignorant  shall 
be  rewarded.     But  the  man  of  rank,   of  wealth,  or  of 
learning,  if  found  guilty,  shall  be  condemned.     "  Thou 
art  weighed  in  the  balance,"  said  Daniel  to  Belthassar, 
"  and  art  found  wanting."   (Dan.  v.  27.)     "  Neither  his 
gold  nor  his  wealth,"  says  Father  Alvares,  "  but  the 
king  alone  was  weighed." 

8.  At  the  divine  tribunal  the  poor  sinner  shall  see 
himself  accused  by  the  devil,    who,    according   to   St. 
Augustine,  "  will  recite  the  words  of  our  profession,  and 
will  charge  us  before  our  face  with  all  that  we  have 
done,  will  state  the  day  and  hour  in  which  we  sinned." 
(Con.  Jud.,  torn.  6.)     "  He  will  recite  the  words  of  our 
profession" — that  is,  he  will  enumerate  the  promises  which 
we  have  made  to  God,  and  which  we  afterwards  violated. 
"  He  will  charge  us  before  our  face  ;"  he  will  upbraid  us 
with  all  our  wicked  deeds,  pointing  to  the  day  and  hour 
in  which  they  were  committed.     And  he  will,  as  the 
same  saint  says,    conclude   his   accusation   by   saying: 
"  I  have  suffered  neither  stripes  nor  scourges  for  this 
man."     Lord,  I  have  suffered  nothing  for  this  ungrateful 
sinner,  and  to  make  himself  my  slave  he  has  turned  his 
back  on  thee  who  has  endured  so  much  for  his  salva 
tion.     He,  therefore,  justly  belongs  to  me.     Even  his 
angel-guardian  will,  according  to  Origen,  come  forward 
to  accuse  him,  and  will  say  :  "  I  have  laboured  so  many 
years  for  his  salvation  ;  bat  he  has  despised  all  my  ad 
monitions."     "  Unusquisque  angelorum  perhibet  testi- 
monium,    quot   annis   circa  eum  laboraverit,   sed    ille 


282  SERMON   XXXVII. 


monita  sprevit."  (Horn.  Ixvi.)  Thus,  even  friends  shall 
treat  with  contempt  the  guilty  soul.  "  All  her  friends 
have  despised  her."  (Lamen.  i.  2.)  Her  very  sins  shall, 
says  St.  Bernard,  accuse  her.  u  And  they  shall  say : 
You  have  made  us ;  we  are  your  work  ;  we  shall  not 
desert  you."  (Lib.  Medit,  cap.  ii.)  AVe  are  your  off 
spring  ;  we  shall  not  leave  you  :  we  shall  be  your  com 
panions  in  hell  for  all  eternity. 

9.  Let  us  now  examine  the  excuses  which  the  sinner 
will  be  able  to  advance.  He  will  say,  that  the  evil  in 
clinations  of  nature  had  drawn  him  into  sin.  But  he 
shall  be  told  that,  if  concupiscence  impelled  him  to  sins, 
it  did  not  oblige  him  to  commit  them  ;  and  that,  if  he 
had  recourse  to  God,  he  should  have  received  from  him 
grace  to  resist  every  temptation.  For  this  purpose 
Jesus  Christ  has  left  us  the  sacraments  :  but  when  we 
do  not  make  use  of  them,  we  can  complain  only  of  our 
selves.  "  But/'  says  the  Redeemer,  "  now  they  have 
no  excuse  for  their  sin."  (John  xv.  22.)  To  excuse 
himself,  the  sinner  shall  also  say  that  the  devil  tempted 
him  to  sin.  But,  as  St.  Augustine  says,  "  The  enemy  is 
bound  like  a  dog  in  chains,  and  can  bite  only  him  who 
has  united  himself  to  him  with  a  deadly  security."  The 
devil  can  bark,  but  cannot  bite  unless  you  adhere  and 
listen  to  him.  Hence  the  saint  adds:  "  See  how  foolish 
is  the  man  whom  a  dog,  loaded  with  chains,  bites." 
Perhaps  he  will  advance  his  bad  habits  as  an  excuse ; 
but  this  shall  not  stand  ;  for  the  same  St.  Augustine 
says,  that  though  it  is  difficult  to  resist  the  force  of  an 
evil  habit,  "  if  any  one  does  not  desert  himself,  he  will 
conquer  it  with  the  divine  assistance."  If  a  man  does 
not  abandon  himself  to  sin,  and  invokes  God's  aid,  he 
will  overcome  evil  habits.  The  Apostle  tells  us,  that 
the  Lord  does  not  permit  us  to  be  tempted  above  our 
strength.  "  God  is  faithful,  who  will  not  suffer  you  to 
be  tempted  above  that  which  you  are  able."  ( I  Cor.  x. 
13.) 

10.  "  For  what  shall  I  do,"  said  Job,  "  when  God 
shall  rise  to  judge  me  ?  and  when  he  shall  examine, 
what  shall  1  answer  him  t"  (Job  xxxi.  14.)  What 
answer  shall  the  sinner  give  to  Jesus  Christ  ?  How 
can  he,  who  sees  himself  so  clearly  convicted,  give  an 


PARTICULAR   JUDGMENT.  283 

answer  ?  He  shall  be  covered  with  confusion,  and  shall 
remain  silent,  like  the  man  found  without  the  nuptial 
garment.  "  But  he  was  silent."  (Matt.  xxii.  12.)  His 
very  sins  shall  shut  the  sinner's  mouth.  "  And  all 
iniquity  shall  stop  her  mouth."  (Ps.  cvi.  42.)  There,, 
says  St.  Thomas  of  Villanova,  there  shall  be  no  inter 
cessor  to  whom  the  sinner  can  have  recourse.  "  There, 
there  is  no  opportunity  of  sinning  ;  there,  no  intercessor, 
no  friend,  no  father  shall  assist."  Who  shall  then  save 
you  ?  Is  it  God  ?  13ut  how,  asks  St.  Basil,  can  you 
expect  salvation  from  him  whom  you  have  despised  ? 
"  Who  shall  deliver  you  ?  Is  it  God,  whom  you  have 
insulted  ?"  (S.  Bas.,  Or.  4,  de  Fen.)  Alas  !  the  guilty 
soul  that  leaves  this  world  in  sin,  is  condemned  by  her 
self  before  the  Judge  pronounces  sentence.  Let  us  come 
to  the  sentence  of  the  Judge. 

Third  Point. — Terror  of  the  soul  when  she  shall  be 
condemned. 

11.  How  great  shall  be  the  joy  of  a  soul  when,  at 
death,  she  hears  from  Jesus  Christ  these  sweet  words  : 
"  Well  done,  good  and  faithful  servant ;  because  thou 
hast  been  faithful  over  a  few  things,  I  will  place  thee 
over  many  things.  Enter  thou  into  the  joy  of  thy 
Lord."  (Matt.  xxv.  21.)  Equally  great  shall  be  the 
anguish  and  despair  of  a  guilty  soul,  that  shall  see  her 
self  driven  away  by  the  Judge  with  the  following  words  : 
"  Depart  from  me,  you  cursed,  into  everlasting  fire" 
(verse  41).  Oh  !  what  a  terrible  thunderclap  shall  that 
sentence  be  to  her  !  "  Oh !  how  frightfully,"  says  tho 
Carthusian,  "shall  that  thunder  resound!"  Eusebius 
writes,  that  the  terror  of  sinners  at  hearing  their  con 
demnation  shall  be  so  great  that,  if  they  could,  they 
would  die  again.  "  The  wicked  shall  be  seized  with 
such  terror  at  the  sight  of  the  Judge  pronouncing  sen 
tence  that,  if  they  were  not  immortal,  they  should  die  a 
second  time."  But,  brethren,  let  us,  before  the  termi 
nation  of  this  sermon,  make  some  reflections  which  will 
be  profitable  to  us.  St.  Thomas  of  Yillanova  says,  that 
some  listen  to  discourses  on  the  judgment  and  condem 
nation  of  the  wicked  with  as  little  concern  as  if  they 
they  themselves  were  secure  against  these  things,  or  as 


284  SERMON    XXXVII. 


if  the  day  of  judgment  were  never  to  arive  for  them. 
"  lieu  quam  sccuri  hrcc  dicimus  et  audimus,  quasi  nos 
non  tangeret  hoDC  sententia,  aut  quasi  dies  haec  nunquam 
esset  venturus  !"  (Cone,  i.,  de  Jud.)  The  saint  then 
asks :  Is  it  not  great  folly  to  entertain  security  in  so 
perilous  an  affair  ?  "  Qua3  est  ista  stulta  securitas  in 
discrimine  tanto  ?"  There  are  some,  says  St.  Augustine, 
who,  though  they  live  in  sin,  cannot  imagine  that  God 
will  send  them  to  hell.  "  Will  God,"  they  say,  "  really 
condemn  us  ?"  Brethren,  adds  the  saint,  do  not  speak 
thus.  So,  many  of  the  damned  did  not  believe  that 
they  should  be  sent  to  hell ;  but  the  end  came,  and, 
according  to  the  threat  of  Ezechiel,  they  have  been  cast 
into  that  place  of  darkness.  "The  end  is  come,  the 
end  is  come... and  I  will  send  my  wrath  upon  thee,  and 
I  will  judge  thee."  (Ezec.  vii.  2,  3.)  Sinners,  perhaps 
vengeance  is  at  hand  for  you,  and  still  you  laugh  and 
sleep  in  sin.  Who  will  not  tremble  at  the  words  of  the 
Baptist :  "  For  now  the  axe  is  laid  to  the  root  of  the 
trees.  Every  tree,  therefore,  that  doth  not  yield  good 
fruit  shall  be  cut  down  and  cast  into  the  fire."  (Matt, 
iii.  10.)  He  says,  that  every  tree  that  does  not  bring 
forth  good  fruit  shall  be  cut  down  and  cast  into  the  fire ; 
and  he  promises  that,  with  regard  to  the  trees,  which 
represent  sinners,  the  axe  is  already  laid  to  the  roots 
— that  is,  chastisement  is  at  hand.  Dearly  beloved 
brethren,  let  us  follow  the  counsel  of  the  Holy  Ghost — 
"Before  judgment,  prepare  thee  justice."  (Eccl.  xviii. 
19.)  Let  us  adjust  our  accounts  before  the  day  of 
accounts.  Let  us  seek  God,  now  that  we  can  find  him  ; 
for  the  time  shall  come  when  we  will  wish,  but  shall 
not  be  able  to  find  him.  "  You  shall  seek  me,  and  shall 
not  find  me."  (John  vii.  3G.)  "  Before  judgment,"  says 
St.  Augustine,  "  the  Judge  can  be  appeased,  but  not  in 
judgment."  By  a  change  of  life  we  can  now  appease 
the  anger  of  Jesus  Christ,  and  recover  his  grace  ;  but 
when  he  shall  judge,  and  find  us  in  sin,  he  must  execute 
justice,  and  we  shall  be  lost. 


DEATH    OF    THE    SINNER.  285 


SERMON  XXXVIII.— NINTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  death  of  the  sinner. 

"Thy  enemies  shall  cast  a  trench  about  thee." — LUKE  xix.  43. 

SEEING  from  a  distance  the  city  of  Jerusalem,  in  which 
the  Jews  were  soon  to  put  him  to  death,  Jesus  Christ 
wept  over  it.  "  Videns  civitatern  flevit  super  illam." 
Our  merciful  Redeemer  wept  at  the  consideration  of  the 
chastisement  which  was  soon  to  be  inflicted  on  the  city, 
and  which  he  foretold  to  her  inhabitants.  "  Thy  enemies 
shall  cast  a  trench  about  thee/'  Unhappy  city  !  thou 
shalt  one  day  see  thyself  encompassed  by  enemies,  who 
shall  beat  thee  flat  to  the  ground,  and  thy  children  in 
thee,  and  shall  not  leave  in  thee  a  stone  upon  a  stone. 
Most  beloved  brethren,  this  unhappy  city  is  a  figure  of 
the  soul  of  a  sinner,  who,  at  the  hour  of  death,  shall  find 
himself  surrounded  by  his  enemies — first,  by  remorse  of 
conscience  ;  secondly,  by  the  assaults  of  the  devils  ;  and 
thirdly,  by  the  fears  of  eternal  death. 

First  Point.  The  sinner  at  death  shall  be  tortured 
by  remorses  of  conscience. 

1.  "  Their  soul  shall  die  in  a  storm."  (Job  xxxvi.  14.) 
The  unhappy  sinners  who  remain  in  sin  die  in  a  tempest, 
with  which  God  has  beforehand  threatened  them.  "  A 
tempest  shall  break  out  and  come  upon  the  head  of  the 
wicked."  (Jer.  xxiii.  19.)  At  the  commencement  of  his 
illness  the  sinner  is  not  troubled  by  remorse  or  fear ; 
because  his  relatives,  friends,  physicians,  and  all  tell  him 
that  his  sickness  is  not  dangerous  ;  thus  he  is  deceived 
and  hopes  to  recover.  But  when  his  illness  increases, 
and  malignant  symptoms,  the  harbingers  of  approaching 
death,  begin  to  appear,  then  the  storm  with  which  the 
Lord  has  threatened  the  wicked  shall  commence.  "When 
sudden  calamity  shall  fall  on  you,  and  destruction  as  a 
tempest  shall  be  at  hand."  (Prov.  i.  27.)  This  tempest 
shall  be  formed  as  well  by  the  pains  of  sickness  as  by  the 
fear  of  being  obliged  to  depart  from  this  earth,  and  to 


286 


SEEMON    XXXVITT. 


leave  all  things  ;  but  still  more  by  the  remorses  of  con 
science,  which  shall  place  before  his  eyes  all  the  irregu 
larities  of  his  past  life.  "  They  shall  come  with  fear  at 
the  thought  of  their  sins,  and  their  iniquities  shall  stand 
against  them  to  convict  them."  (Wis.  iv.  20.)  Then 
shall  his  sins  rush  upon  his  mind,  and  fill  him  with 
terror.  His  iniquities  shall  stand  against  him  to  convict 
him,  and,  without  the  aid  of  other  testimony,  shall  assail 
him,  and  prove  that  he  deserves  hell. 

2.  The  dying  sinner  will  confess  his  sins  ;  but,  accord 
ing  to  St.  Augustine,  "  The  repentance  which  is  sought 
from  a  sick  man  is  infirm."  (Serin,  xxxvii.,  de  Temp.) 
And  St.  Jerome  says,  that  of  a  hundred  thousand  sinners 
who  continue  till  death  in  the  state  of  sin,  scarcely  one 
shall  be  saved.     "  Yix  de  centum  milibus,  quorum  mala 
vita  fuit,  meretur  in  morte  a  Deo  indulgentiam,  unus." 
(Epis.  de  Mort.  Eus.)     St.  Vincent  Ferrer  writes,  that  it 
is  a  greater  miracle  to  save  such  sinners,  than  to  raise 
the  dead  to  life.     "  Majus  miraculum  est,  quod  male 
viventes  faciant  bonum  finem,  quam  suscitare  mortuos." 
(Serm.  i.,  de  Nativ.  Yirgin.)     They  shall  feel  convinced 
of  the  evil  they  have  done  ;  they  will  wish,  but  shall  not 
be  able,  to  detest  it.     Antiochus  understood  the  malice 
of  his  sins  when  he  said  :  "  Now  I  remember  the  evils 
that  I  have  done  in  Jerusalem."  (1  Mach.  vi.  12.)     He 
remembered  his  sins,  but  did  not  detest  them.     He  died 
in  despair  and  oppressed  with  great  sadness,  saying: 
"  Behold,  I  perish  with  great  grief  in  a  strange  land" 
(v.  13).     According  to  St.  Fulgentius,  the  same  happened 
to  Saul  at  the  hour  of  death  :  he  remembered  his  sins  ; 
he  dreaded  the  punishment  which  they  deserved  ;  but  he 
did  not  detest  them.     "  JNTon  odit  quid  fecerat,  sed  timuit 
quod  nolebat." 

3.  Oh !  how  difficult  is  it  for  a  sinner,  who  has  slept 
many  years  in  sin,  to  repent  sincerely  at  the  hour  of 
death,    when    his   mind   is   darkened,    and    his    heart 
hardened  !     "  His  heart  shall  be  as  hard  as  a  stone,  and 
as  firm  as  a  smith's  anvil."   (Job  xli.  15.)     During  life, 
instead  of  yielding  to  the  graces  and  calls  of  God,  he 
became   more   obdurate,    as  the  anvil  is   hardened  by 
repeated  strokes  of  the  hammer.     "  A  hard  heart  shall 
fare  evil  at  the  last."  (Eccl.  iii.  27.)     By  loving  sin  till 


DEATH    OF    THE    SINNER.  287 

death,  he  has  loved  the  danger  of  his  damnation,  and 
therefore  God  will  justly  permit  him  to  perish  in  the 
danger  in  which  he  wished  to  live  till  death. 

4.  St.  Augustine  says,  that  he  who  is  abandoned  by 
sin  before  he  abandons  it,  will  scarcely  detest  it  as  he 
ought  at  the  hour  of  death ;  for  he  will  then  detest  it, 
not   through   a   hatred  of  sin,  but   through  necessity. 
"  Qui  prius  a  peccato  relinquitur,  quam  ipse  relinquat, 
non  libere,  sed  quasi  ex  necessitate  condemnat."     But 
how  shall  he  be  able  to  hate  from  his  heart  the  sins  which 
he  has  loved  till  death  ?  He  must  love  the  enemy  whom 
till  then  he  has  hated,  and  he  must  hate  the  person  whom 
he  has  till  that  moment  loved.     Oh !  what  mountains 
must  he  pass  !   He  shall  probably  meet  with  a  fate  similar 
to  that  of  a  certain  person,  who  kept  in  confinement  a 
great  number  of  wild  beasts  in  order  to  let  them  loose  on 
the  enemies  who  might  assail  him.     But  the  wild  beasts, 
as  soon  as  he  unchained  them,  instead  of  attacking  his 
enemies,  devoured  himself.   When  the  sinner  will  wish  to 
drive  away  his  iniquities,  they  shall  cause  his  destruction, 
either  by  complacency  in  objects  till  then  loved,  or  by 
despair  of  pardon   at  the   sight  of  their  numbers  and 
enormity.      "Evils  shall  catch   the   unjust  man  unto 
destruction."  (Ps.  cxxxix.  12.)     St.  Bernard  says,  that 
at  death  the  sinner  shall  see  himself  chained  and  bound 
by  his  sins.     "  We  are  your  works ;  we  will  not  desert 
you."     We  will  not  leave  you ;  we  will  accompany  you 
to  judgment,  and  will  be  your  companions  for  all  eternity 
in  hell. 

Second  Point.     The  dying  sinner  shall  be  tortured  by 
the  assaults  of  the  devils. 

5.  "  The  devil  is  come  down  unto  you,  having  great 
wrath,  knowing  that  he  hath  but  a  short  time."  (Apoc. 
xii.  12.)     At  death  the  devil  exerts  all  his  powers  to 
secure  the  soul  that  is  about  to  leave  this  world ;  for  he 
knows,  from  the  symptoms  of  the  disease,  that  he  has 
but  little  time  to  gain  her  for  eternity.     The  Council 
of  Trent  teaches  that  Jesus  Christ  has  left  us  the  sacra 
ment  of  Extreme  Unction  as  a  most  powerful  defence 
against  the  temptations  of  the  devil  at  the  hour  of  death. 
41  Extreme  Unctionis  sacramento  finem  vitas  tanquam 


288  SERMON   XXXVIII. 


firmissimo  quodam  prscsidio  munivit."  And  the  holy 
council  adds,  that  there  is  no  time  in  which  the  enemy 
combats  against  us  with  so  much  violence  in  order  to 
effect  our  damnation,  and  to  make  us  despair  of  the 
divine  mercy,  as  at  the  end  of  life.  "  N ullum  tempus 
est,  quo  vehementius  ille  omnes  sua3  versutise  nervos 
intendat  at  perendos,  nos  penitus,  et  a  fiducia,  etiam,  si 
possit,  divinrc  misericordirc  deturbandos,  quam  cum  im- 
pendere  nobis  exitum  vita)  perspicet."  (Sess.  14,  cap.  ix. 
Doctr.  de  Sacr.  Extr.  Unct.) 

6.  Oh  !  how  terrible  are  the  assaults  and  snares  of  the 
devil  against  the  souls  of  dyiug  persons,  even  though 
they  have  led  a  holy  life  !     After  his  recovery  from  a 
most  severe  illness,  the  holy  king  Eleazar  said,  that  the 
temptations  by  which  the  devil  assails  men  at  death, 
can  be  conceived  only  by  him  who  has  felt  them.     We 
read  in  the  life  of  St.  Andrew  Avelliuo,   that  in  his 
agony  he  had  so  fierce  a  combat  with  hell,  that  all  the 
religious   present   were   seized  with  trembling.     They 
perceived  that,  in  consequence  of  the  agitation,  his  face 
swelled,  and  became  black,  all  his  members  trembled, 
and  a  flood  of  tears  gushed  from  his  eyes.     All  began 
to  weep  through  compassion,  and  were  rilled  with  terror 
at  the  sight  of  a  saint  dying  in  such  a  manner.    But  they 
were  afterwards  consoled,  \\hoii  they  saw  that  as  soon  as 
an  image  of  most  holy  Mary  was  held  before  him,  he 
became  perfectly  calm,  and  breathed  forth  his  blessed 
soul  with  great  joy. 

7.  Now,  if  this   happens  to  the   saints,   what  shall 
become  of  poor   sinners,  who   have   lived   in   sin   till 
death  ?      At  that  awful   moment   the  devil   does   not 
come  alone  to  tempt  them  in  a  thousand  ways,  in  order 
to  bring  them  to  eternal  perdition,  but  he  calls  com 
panions  to  his  assistance.     "  Their  house  shall  be  filled 
with  serpents."  (Isa.  xiii.  21.)      When   a   Christian  is 
about  to  leave  this  world,  his  house  is  filled  with  devils, 
who  unite  together  in  order  to  effect  his  ruin.     "  All 
her  persecutors  have  taken  her  in  the  midst  of  straits." 
(Larnen.  i.  3.)     All  his  enemies  will  encompass  him  in 
the  straits  of  death.     One  shall  say :  13e  not  afraid ; 
you  shall  not  die  of  this  sickness  !     Another  will  say  : 
You  have  been  for  so  many  years  deaf  to  the  calls  of 


DEATH   OF    THE    SINNER.  289 

God,  and  can  you  now  expect  that  he  will  save  you  ? 
AD  other  will  ask:  How 'can  you  repair  the  frauds  of 
your  past  life,  and  the  injuries  you  have  done  to  your 
neighbour  in  his  property  and  character  ?  Another  shall 
ask :  What  hope  can  there  be  for  you  ?  Do  you  not 
see  that  all  your  confessions  have  been  null— that  they 
have  been  made  without  true  sorrow,  and  without  a  firm 
purpose  of  amendment  ?  How  can  you  repair  them  with 
this  heart,  which  you  feel  so  hard  ?  Do  you  not  see 
that  you  are  lost  ?  And  in  the  midst  of  these  straits 
and  attacks  of  despair,  the  dying  sinner,  full  of  agita 
tion  and  confusion,  must  pass  into  eternity.  "  The  people 
shall  be  troubled — and  they  shall  pass."  (Job  xxxiv 
20.) 

Third  Point.     The  dying  sinner  shall  be  tortured  by 
the  fears  of  eternal  death. 

8.  Miserable  the  sick  man  who  takes  to  his  bed  in  the 
state  of  mortal  sin!  He  that  lives  in  sin  till  death 
shall  die  in  sin.  "You  shall  die  in  your  sin."  (John 
viii.  21.)  It  is  true  that,  in  whatsoever  hour  the  sinner 
is  converted,  God  promises  to  pardon  him ;  but  to  no 
sinner  has  God  promised  the  grace  of  conversion  at  the 
hour  of  death.  "  Seek  the  Lord  while  he  may  be 
found."  (Isa.  Iv.  6.)  Then,  there  is  for  some  sinners  a 
time  when  they  shall  seek  God  and  shall  not  find  him. 
'  You  shall  seek  me,  and  shall  not  find  me."  (John  vii. 
34.)  The  unhappy  beings  will  go  to  confession  at  the 
hour  of  death  ;  they  will  promise  and  weep,  and  ask 
mercy  of  God,  but  without  knowing  what  they  do.  A 
man  who  sees  himself  under  the  feet  of  a  foe  pointing 
a  dagger  to  his  throat,  will  shed  tears,  ask  pardon,  and 
promise  to  serve  his  enemy  as  a  slave  during  the  remain 
der  of  his  life.  But,  will  the  enemy  believe  him  ?  No  ; 
lie  will  feel  convinced  that  his  words  are  not  sincere — 
that  his  object  is  to  escape  from  his  hands,  and  that, 
should  he  be  pardoned,  he  will  become  more  hostile 
than  ever.  In  like  manner,  how  can  God  pardon 
the  dying  sinner,  when  he  sees  that  all  his  acts  of 
sorrow,  and  all  his  promises,  proceed  not  from  the 
heart,  but  from  a  dread  of  death  and  of  approaching 
damnation. 


290  SERMOX  XXXYIII. 


9.  In  the  recommendation  of  the  departing  soul,  the 
assisting  priest  prays  to  the  Lord,  saying :  "  Recognize,  O 
Lord,  thy  creature."    But  God  answers:  I  know  that  he 
is  my  creature;  but,   instead  of  regarding  me  as  his 
Creator,  he  has  treated  me  as  an  enemy.     The  priest 
continues  his  prayer,  and  says  :  "  Remember  not  his  past 
iniquities.5'     1  would,  replies  the  Lord,  pardon  all  the 
past  sins  of  his  youth  ;  but  he  has  continued  to  despise 
me   till   this    moment— the   very    hour  of    his   death. 
"  They  have  turned  their  back  upon  me,  and  not  their 
face:    and,  in   the   time  of  affliction,  they   will   say: 
Arise,  and  deliver  us.     Where  are  the  gods  which  thou 
hast  made  thee  ?  let  them  rise  and  deliver  thee."  (Jer. 
ii.  27,  28.)     You,  says  the  Lord,  have  turned  your  back 
upon  me  till  death  ;  "and  do  you  now  want  me  to  deliver 
you  from  vengeance  ?      Invoke   your   own   gods — the 
creatures,  the  riches,  the  friends  you  loved  more  than 
you  loved  me.     Call  them  now  to  come  to  your  assist 
ance,  and  to  save   you  from  hell,  which   is   open   to 
receive  you.      It  now  justly  belongs  to  me   to   take 
vengeance  on  the  insults  you  have  offered  me.     You 
have  despised  my  threats  against  obstinate  sinners,  and 
have  paid  no  regard  to  them.     "  Revenge  is  mine,  and 
I  will  repay  them  in  due  time,  that  their  foot  may 
slide."  (Deut.  xxxii.  35.)     The  time  of  my  vengeance 
is  now  arrived  ;  it  is  but  just  to  execute  it.     This  is  pre 
cisely  what  happened  to  a  certain  person  in  Madrid, 
who  led  a  wicked  life,  but,  at  the  sight  of  the  unhappy 
death  of  a  companion,  went  to  confession,  and  resolved 
to  enter  a  strict  religious  order.     But,  in  consequence 
of  having  neglected  to  put  his  resolution  into  immediate 
execution,  he   relapsed   into   his  former   irregularities. 
Being  reduced  to  great  want,  he  wandered  about  the 
world,  and  fell  sick  at  Lima.      From  the  hospital  in 
which  he  took  refuge  he  sent  for  a  confessor,  and  pro 
mised  again  to  change  his  life,  and  to  enter  religion. 
But,  having  recovered  from  his  illness,  he  returned  to 
his  wickedness ;  and,  behold !    the  vengeance  of  God 
fell  upon  him.      One   day,  his  confessor,   who  was  a 
missionary,  in  passing  over  a  mountain,  heard  a  noise, 
which  appeared  to  be  the  howling  of  a  wild  beast.     He 
drew  near  the  place  from  which  the  noise  proceeded, 


DEATH    OF    THE   SINNER.  291 

and  saw  a  dying  man,  half  rotten,  and  howling  through 
despair.  He  addressed  to  him  some  words  of  consola 
tion.  The  sick  man,  opening  his  eyes,  recognized  the 
missionary,  and  said :  Have  you,  too,  come  to  he  a  wit 
ness  of  the  justice  of  God  ?  I  am  the  man  who  made 
my  confession  in  the  hospital  of  Lima.  I  then  promised 
to  change  my  life,  but  have  not  done  so ;  and  now  I  die 
in  despair.  And  thus  the  miserable  man,  amid  these 
acts  of  despair,  breathed  forth  his  unhappy  soul.  These 
facts  are  related  by  Father  Charles  Eovio  (part  iii., 
example  9). 

10.  Let  us  conclude  the  discourse.  Tell  me,  bre 
thren,  were  a  person  in  sin  seized  with  apoplexy,  and 
instantly  deprived  of  his  senses,  what  sentiments  of 
pity  would  you  feel  at  seeing  him  die  in  this  state ; 
without  the  sacraments,  and  without  signs  of  repent 
ance  !  Is  not  he  a  fool,  who,  when  he  has  time  to  be 
reconciled  with  God,  continues  in  sin,  or  returns  to  his 
sins,  and  thus  exposes  himself  to  the  danger  of  dying 
suddenly,  and  of  dying  in  sin  ?  "  At  what  hour  you 
think  not,"  says  Jesus  Christ,  "  the  Son  of  Man  will 
come,"  (Luke  xiii.  40.)  An  unprovided  death,  which 
has  happened  to  so  many,  may  also  happen  to  each  of 
us.  And  it  is  necessary  to  understand,  that  all  who 
lead  a  bad  life,  meet  with  an  unprovided  death,  though 
their  last  illness  may  allow  them  some  time  to  prepare 
for  eternity ;  for  the  days  of  that  mortal  illness  are 
days  of  darkness — days  of  confusion,  in  which  it  is 
difficult,  and  even  morally  impossible,  to  adjust  a  con 
science  burdened  with  many  sins.  Tell  me,  brethren, 
if  you^were  now  at  the  point  of  death,  given  over  by 
physicians,  and  in  the  last  agony,  how  ardently  would 
you  desire  another  month,  or  another  week,  to  settle 
the  accounts  you  must  render  to  God  I  And  God  gives 
you  this  time.  He  calls  you,  and  warns  you  of  the 
danger  of  damnation  to  which  you  are  exposed.  Give 
yourself,  then,  instantly  to  God.  What  do  you  wait 
for  ?  Will  you  wait  till  he  sends  you  to  hell  ?  "  Walk 
whilst  you  have  light."  (John  xii.  35.)  Avail  yourselves 
of  this  time  and  this  light,  which  God  gives  you  at  this 
moment,  and  now,  while  it  is  in  your  power,  repent  of 
all  your  past  sins ;  for,  a  time  shall  come  when  you  will 


292  SERMON    XXXIX. 

"be  no  longer  able  to  avert  the  punishment  which  they 
deserve. 

[I  entreat  my  reader  to  read  Sermon  xliv.,  or  the 
Sermon  for  the  Fifteenth  Sunday  after  Pentecost,  on  the 
practical  death,  or  that  which  practically  happens  at  the 
death  of  men  of  the  world.  I  know  by  experience  that 
though  it  does  notcontain  Latin  texts,  whenever  I  preached 
that  sermon,  it  produced  a  great  impression,  and  left  the 
audience  full  of  terror.  A  greater  impression  is  made  by 
practical  than  by  speculative  truths.] 


SERMON  XXXIX.— TENTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  efficacy  and  necessity  of  prayer. 

"  0  God,  be  merciful  to  me  a  sinner."— LUKE  xviii.  13. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  read,  that  two  men,  one  a  Pharisee 
and  the  other  a  Publican,  went  to  the  temple.  ^  Instead 
of  bowing  down  to  beg  of  God  to  assist  him  by  his  graces, 
the  Pharisee  said :  I  thank  thee,  O  Lord,  that  I  atn  not 
as  the  rest  of  men,  who  are  sinners.  ^  "  Deus  gratias  ago 
tibi,  quia  non  sum  sicut  cocteri  homines."  But  the  Pub 
lican,  tilled  with  sentiments  of  humility,  cried  out :  "  O 
God,  be  merciful  to  me,  a  sinner."  St.  Luke  tells  us, 
that  this  Publican  returned  to  his  house  justified  ;  and 
that  the  Pharisee  went  home  as  guilty  and  as  proud  as 
when  he  entered  the  temple.  From  this,  most  beloved 
brethren,  you  may  infer  how  pleasing  to  God,  and  how- 
necessary  for  us,  are  our  humble  petitions  to  obtain  from 
the  Lord  all  the  graces  which  are  indispensable  for  sal 
vation.  In  this  sermon  I  will  show,  in  the  first  point, 
the  efficacy  of  prayer  :  and  in  the  second,  the  necessity 
of  prayer. 

Firxt  Point.     On  the  efficacy  of  prayer. 

1.  To  understand  the  efficacy  and  value  of  our 
prayers,  we  need  only  consider  the  great  promises  which. 
God  has  made  to  every  one  who  prays.  "Call  upon 


EFFICACY    AND    NECESSITY    OF    PRAYER.  293 

me,  and  I  will  deliver  thee."  (Ps.  xlix.  15.)  Call  upon 
me,  and  I  will  save  you  from  every  danger.  "  He  shall 
cry  to  me,  I  will  hear  him."  (Ps.  xc.  15.)  "Cry  to  me, 
and  I  will  hear  thee."  (Jer.  xxxiii.  3.)  "You  shall 
ask  whatever  you  will,  and  it  shall  be  done  unto  you." 
(John  xv.  7.)  Ask  whatsoever  you  wish  and  it  shall 
le  given  to  you.  There  are  a  thousand  similar  passages 
in  the  Old  and  New  Testaments.  By  his  nature  God 
is,  as  St.^  Leo  says,  goodness  itself.  "  Deus  cujus  natura 
bonitas."  Hence  he  desires,  with  a  great  desire,  to 
make  us  partakers  of  his  own  good.  St.  Mary  Magda 
lene  de  Pazzi  used  to  say,  that  when  a  soul  prays  to  God 
for  ^  any  grace,  he  feels  in  a  certain  manner  under  an 
obligation  to  her,  and  thanks  her  ;  because  by  prayer 
the  soul  opens  to  him  a  way  of  satisfying  his  desire  to 
dispense  his  graces  to  us.  Hence,  in  the  holy  Scriptures, 
the  Lord  appears  to  recommend  and  inculcate  to  us 
nothing  more  forcibly  than  to  ask  and  pray.  To  show 
this,  the  words  which  we  read  in  the  seventh  chapter  of 
St.  Matthew  are  sufficient.  "  Ask,  and  it  shall  be  given 
you  ;  seek,  and  you  shall  find ;  knock,  and  it  shall  be 
opened  to  you"  (vii.  7).  St.  Augustine  teaches,  that 
by  these  promises  God  has  bound  himself  to  grant  all 
that  we  ask  in  prayer.  "  By  his  promises  he  has  made 
himself  a  debtor."  (De  Verb.  Dom.  Serm.  ii.)  And,  in 
the  fifth  sermon,  the  saint  says,  that  if  the  Lord  did  not 
wish  to  bestow  his  graces  upon  us,  he  would  not  exhort 
us  so  strenuously  to  ask  them.  "He  would  not  exhort 
us  to  ask,  unless  he  wished  to  give."  Hence  we  see  that 
the  Psalms  of  David  and  the  Books  of  Solomon  and  of 
the  Prophets  are  full  of  prayers. 

2.  Theodoret  has  written,  that  prayer  is  so  efficacious 
before  God,  that,  "  though  it  be  one,  it  can  do  all  things." 
"  Oratio  cum  sit  una,  omnia  potest."  St.  Bernard 
teaches,  that  when  we  pray,  the  Lord,  if  he  does  not 
give  the  grace  we  ask,  will  grant  a  more  useful  gift. 
"  He  will  give  either  what  we  ask,  or  what  he  knows  to 
be  more  profitable  to  us."  (Serm.  v.  in  Fer.  4  cm.)  And 
whom  has  God,  when  asked  for  aid,  ever  despised  by 
not  listening  to  his  petition  ?  "  Who  hath  called  upon 
him,  and  he  despised  him  ?"  (Eccl.  ii.  12.)  The  Scripture 
says,  that  among  the  nations  there  is  none  that  has  gods 


294:  SERMON    XXXIX. 


so  willing  to  hear  our  prayers,  as  our  true  God. 
"  Neither  is  there  any  other  nation  so  great,  that  hath 
gods  so  nigh  to  them,  as  our  God  is  present  to  all  our 
petitions."  (Deut.  iv.  7.)  The  princes  of  the  earth, 
says  St.  Chrysostom,  give  audience  only  to  a  few  ;  but 
God  grants  it  to  every  one  that  wishes  for  it.  "  Aures 
principis  paucis  patent,  Die  vero  omnibus  volentibus." 
(Lib.  2,  de  Orat.)  David  tells  us  that  this  goodness  of 
God  in  hearing  us  at  whatever  time  we  pray  to  him, 
shows  us  that  he  is  our  true  God,  whose  love  for  us 
surpasses  the  love  of  all  others.  "  In  what  day  soever 
I  shall  call  upon  thee,  behold  I  know  thou  art  my  God." 
(Ps.  Iv.  10.)  He  wishes  and  ardently  desires  to  confer 
favours  upon  us ;  but  he  requires  us  to  pray  for  them. 
Jesus  Christ  said  one  day  to  his  disciples  :  "  Hitherto 
you  have  not  asked  anything  in  my  name  ;  ask,  and  you 
shall  receive,  that  your  joy  may  be  full."  (John  xvi. 
24.)  As  if  he  said  :  You  complain  of  me  for  not  making 
you  perfectly  content ;  but  you  ought  to  complain  of 
yourselves  for  not  having  asked  of  me  all  the  gifts  you 
stood  in  need  of ;  ask,  henceforth,  whatsoever  you  want, 
and  your  prayer  shall  be  heard.  Many,  says  St. 
Bernard  complain  that  the  Lord  is  wanting  to  them. 
But  he  complains  with  more  justice  that  they  are 
wanting  to  him,  by  neglecting  to  ask  him  for  his  graces. 
"  Omnes  nobis  causamur  deesse  gratiam,  sed  justius 
forsitan  ista  sibi  queritur  deesse  nonnullos."  (S.  Bern, 
de  Trip].  Cust.) 

3.  The  ancient  fathers,  after  having  consulted  to 
gether  about  the  exercise  most  conducive  to  salvation, 
came  to  the  conclusion,  that  the  best  means  of  securing 
eternal  life  is,  to  pray  continually,  saying :  Lord,  assist 
me  ;  Lord,  hasten  to  my  assistance.  "  Incline  unto  my 
aid,  0  God ;  0  Lord,  make  haste  to  help  me."  Hence 
the  holy  Church  commands  these  two  petitions  to  be 
often  repeated  in  the  canonical  hours  by  all  the  clergy 
and  by  all  religious,  who  pray  not  only  for  themselves, 
but  also  for  the  whole  Christian  world.  St.  John 
Climacus  says,  that  our  prayers  as  it  were  compel  God 
by  a  holy  violence  to  hear  us.  "  Prayer  piously  does 
violence  to  God."  Hence,  when  we  pray  to  the  Lord, 
lie  instantly  answers  by  bestowing  upon  us  the  grace 


EFFICACY    AND    NECESSITY   OF    PRAYER.  295 


we  ask.  "  At  the  voice  of  thy  cry,  as  soon  as  he  shall 
hear,  he  will  answer  thee."  (Isa.  xxx.  19.)  Hence  St. 
Ambrose  says,  that  "  he  who  asks  of  God,  receives  while 
he  asks."  (Ep.  Ixxxiv.,  ad  Demetr.)  And  he  not  only 
grants  his  grace  instantly,  but  also  abundantly,  giving 
us  more  than  we  pray  for.  St.  Paul  tells  us  that  God  is 
rich — that  is,  liberal  of  his  graces  to  every  one  that  prays 
to  him.  «  Rich  unto  all  that  call  upon  him."  (Rom.  x. 
12.)  And  St.  James  says  :  "  If  any  of  you  want  wisdom 
let  him  ask  of  God,  who  giveth  to  all  men  abundantly 
and  upbraideth  not/'  (St.  James  i.  5.)  "  He  upbraideth 
not;"  when  we  pray  to  him  he  does  not  reproach  us  with 
the  insults  we  have  offered  to  him,  but  he  appears  then 
to  forget  all  the  injuries  we  have  done  him,  and  to  delight 
in  enriching  us  with  his  graces. 

Second  Point     On  the  necessity  of  prayer. 

4.  "  God,"  as  St.  Paul  has  written,  "  will  have  all 
men  to  be  saved,  and  to  come  to  the  knowledge  of  the 
truth."  (1  Tim.  ii.  4.)  According  to  St.  Peter,  he  does 
not  wish  any  one  to  be  lost.  "  The  Lord  dealeth  pa 
tiently  for  your  sake,  not  willing  that  any  soul  should 
perish,  but  that  all  should  return  to  penance."  (1  Pet. 
iii.  D.)  Hence  St.  Leo  teaches,  that  as  God  wishes  us  to 
observe  his  commands,  so  he  prevents  us  by  his  assist 
ance,  that  we  may  fulfil  them.  "  Juste  instat  praccepto 
qui  pra3currit  auxilio."  (Serm.  xvi.  de  Pass.)  And  St. 
Thomas,  in  explaining  the  words  of  the  Apostle,  "  God, 
who  will  have  all  men  to  be  saved,"  says :  *k  Therefore, 
grace  is  wanting  to  no  one ;  but  he,  on  his  part,  commu 
nicates  it  to  all."  (In  Epist,  ad  Hebr.,  cap.  xii.,  lect.  3.) 
And  in  another  place  the  holy  doctor  writes:  "  To  pro 
vide  every  man  with  the  means  necessary  for  his  salva 
tion,  provided  on  his  part  he  puts  no  obstacle  to  it, 
belongs  to  Divine  Providence."  But,  according  to 
Gennadius,  the  assistance  of  his  grace  the  Lord  grants 
only  to  those  who  pray  for  it.  "  We  believe.  . .  .that  no 
one  works  out  his  salvation  but  by  God's  assistance  ;  and 
that  he  only  who  prays  merits  aid  from  God."  (de  Eccle^. 
Uogm.)  And  St.  Augustine  teaches,  that,  except  the 
first  graces  of  vocation  to  the  faith  and  to  repentance, 
all  other  graces,  and  particularly  the  grace  of  perseve- 


290  SERMON   XXXIX. 


ranee,  are  granted  to  those  only  who  ask  them.  "  It  is 
evident  that  God  gives  some  graces,  such  as  the  begin 
ning  of  faith,  without  prayer — and  that  he  has  prepared 
other  graces,  such  as  perseverance  to  the  end — only  for 
those  who  pray."  (Dc  dono  persev.,  c.xvi.)  And  in  another 
place  he  writes,  that  "  God  wishes  to  bestow  his  favours ; 
but  he  gives  them  only  to  those  who  ask."  (In  Ps.  c.) 

5.  Hence  theologians  commonly  teach,  after  St.  Basil, 
St.  John  Chrysostom,  St.  Augustine,  Clement  of  Alex 
andria,  and  others,  that,  for  adults  prayer  is  necessary 
as  a  means  of  salvation  ;  that  is,  that  without  prayer  it 
is  impossible  for  them  to  be  saved.  This  doctrine  may 
be  inferred  from  the  following  passages  of  Scripture  : 
"We  ought  always  to  pray."  (Luke  xviii.  1.)  "Ask, 
and  you  shall  receive."  (John  xvi.  24.)  "  Pray  without 
ceasing."  (1  Thess.  v.  17.)  The  words  ^cc  ought,  ask, 
pray,  according  to  St.  Thomas  (3  part,  qu.  xxxix.  art.  5) 
and  the  generality  of  theologians,  imply  a  precept  which 
obliges,  under  grievous  sin,  particularly  in  three  cases: 
First,  when  a  man  is  in  the  state  of  sin  ;  secondly,  when 
he  is  in  great  danger  of  falling  into  sin  ;  and,  thirdly, 
when  he  is  in  danger  of  death.  Theologians  teach,  that 
he  who,  at  other  times,  neglects  prayer  for  a  month,  or 
at  most  for  two  months,  cannot  be  excused  from  mortal 
sin ;  because,  without  prayer  we  cannot  procure  the 
helps  necessary  for  the  observance  of  the  law  of  God. 
St.  Chrysostom  teaches  that  as  water  is  necessary  to  pre 
vent  trees  from  withering,  so  prayer  is  necessary  to  save 
us  from  perdition.  "  -Non  ninus  quam  arbores  aquis, 
precibus  indigcmus."  (Tom.  l,hom.  Ixxvii.) 

6.  Most  groundless  was  the  assertion  of  Jansenius, 
that  there  are  some  commands,  the  fulfilment  of  which 
is  impossible  to  us,  and  that  we  have  not  even  grace  to 
render  their  observance  possible.  For,  the  Council  of 
Trent  teaches,  in  the  words  of  St.  Augustine,  that, 
though  man  is  not  able,  with  the  aid  of  the  grace  ordi 
narily  given,  to  fulfil  all  the  commandments,  still  he 
can,  by  prayer,  obtain  the  additional  helps  necessary  for 
their  observance.  "  God  does  not  command  impossibi 
lities  ;  but,  by  his  precepts,  he  admonishes  you  to  do 
what  you  can,  and  to  ask  what  you  cannot  do  ;  and  he 
assists  you,  that  you  may  be  able  to  do  it."  (Sess.  6,  cap. 


EFFICACY    AND   NECESSITY    OF    PRAYER.  297 

xi.)  To  this  may  be  added  another  celebrated  passage 
of  St.  Augustine  :  "  By  our  faith,  which  teaches  that 
God  does  not  command  impossibilities,  we  are  admon 
ished  what  to  do  in  things  that  are  easy,  and  what  to 
ask  in  things  that  are  difficult."  (Lib.  de  Nat.  et  Grat., 
cap.  Ixix.,  n.  83.) 

7.  But  why  does  God,  who  knows  our  weakness,  per 
mit  us  to  be  assailed  by  enemies  which  we  are  not  able 
to  resist  ?     The  Lord,  answers  the  holy  doctor,  seeing 
the  great  advantages  which  we  derive  from  the  necessity 
of  prayer,  permits  us  to  be  attacked  by  enemies  more 
powerful  than  we  are,  that  we  may  ask  his  assistance. 
Hence  they  who  are  conquered  cannot  excuse  themselves 
toy  saying  that  they  had  not  strength  to  resist  the  assault 
of  the  enemy ;  for  had  they  asked  aid  from  God,  he 
should  have  given  it ;  and  had  they  prayed,  they  should 
have  been  victorious.     Therefore,  if  they  are  defeated, 
God  will  punish  them.     St.  Bonaventure  says,  that  if  a 
general  lose  a  fortress  in  consequence   of  not  having 
sought  timely  succour  from  his  sovereign,  he  shall  be 
branded  as  a  traitor.     "  Reputaretur  infidelis,  nisi  ex- 
pectaret   a  rege   auxilium."   (S.   Bon.   Difet.   tit,  c.  v.) 
Thus  God  regards  as  a  traitor  the  Christian  who,  when 
lie  finds  himself  assailed  by  temptations,  neglects  to  seek 
the  divine  aid.     "  Ask,"  says  Jesus  Christ,  "  and  you 
shall  receive."     Then,  concludes  St.  Teresa,  he  that  does 
not  ask  does  not  receive.     This  is  conformable  to  the 
doctrine  of  St.  James:  "  You  have  not,  because  you  do 
not  ask."  (St.  James  iv.  2.)     St.  Chrysostom  says,  that 
prayer    is    a   powerful   weapon   of  defence  against  all 
enemies.      "  Truly  prayer  is  a  great  armour."   (Horn, 
xli.,  ad  Pop.)     St.  Ephrem  writes,  that  he  who  fortifies 
himself  beforehand  by  prayer,  prevents  the  entrance  of 
sin  into  the  soul.     "  If  you  pray  before  you  work,  the 
passage  into  the  soul  will  not  be  open  to  sin."  (Serm.  de 
•Orat.)     David  said  the  same  :  "  Praising  I  will  call  upon 
the  Lord,  and  I  shall  be  saved  from  my  enemies."  (Ps. 
xvii.  4.) 

8.  If  we  wish  to  lead  a  good  life,  and  to  save  our 
souls,  we  must  learn  to  pray.     "  He,"  says  St.  Augus 
tine,  "  knows  how  to  live  well  who  knows  how  to  pray 
well."  (Horn,  xliii.)     In  order  to  obtain  God's  graces  by 


298  SERMON  XXXIX. 


prayer,  it  is  necessary,  first,  to  take  away  sin  ;  for  God 
does  not  hear  obstinate  sinners.  For  example  :  if  a 
person  entertains  hatred  towards  another,  and  wishes  to 
take  revenge,  God  does  not  hear  his  prayer.  "  When 
you  multiply  prayer,  I  will  not  hear  ;  for  your  hands  are 
full  of  blood."  (Isa.  i.  15.)  St.  Chrysostom  says,  that 
he  who  prays  while  he  cherishes  a  sinful  affection,  does 
not  pray,  but  mocks  God.  "  Qui  orat  et  peccat,  non. 
rogat  Deum  sed  illudit."  (Ilom.  xi.,  in  Matt,  vi.)  But 
if  he  ask  the  Lord  to  take  away  hatred  from  his  heart, 
the  Lord  will  hear  him.  Secondly,  it  is  necessary  to 
pray  with  attention.  Some  imagine  that  they  pray  by 
repeating  many  Our  Fathers,  with  such  distraction  that 
they  do  not  know  what  they  say.  These  speak,  but  do 
not  pray.  Of  them  the  Lord  says,  by  the  Prophet 
Isaias  :  "  With  their  lips  they  glorify  me,  but  their 
hearts  are  far  from  me."  (Isa.  xxix.  13.)  Thirdly,  it  is 
necessary,  as  the  Holy  Ghost  exhorts  us,  to  take  away 
the  occasions  which  hinder  us  to  pray.  "  Let  nothing 
hinder  thee  from  praying  always."  (Eccl.  xviii.  22.)  He 
who  is  occupied  in  a  thousand  affairs  unprofitable  to  the 
soul,  places  a  cloud  before  his  prayers,  which  prevents 
their  passing  to  the  throne  of  grace.  "  Thou  hast  set  a 
cloud  before  thee,  that  our  prayer  may  not  pass 
through."  (Lamen.  iii.  44.)  I  will  not  omit  here  the 
exhortation  of  St.  Bernard,  to  ask  graces  of  God  through 
the  intercession  of  his  divine  mother.  "  Let  us  ask 
grace,  and  ask  it  through  Mary ;  for  she  is  a  mother, 
and  her  prayer  cannot  be  fruitless."  (Serm.  de  Aqscd.) 
St.  Anselm  says:  "Many  things  are  asked  of  God  and 
are  not  obtained  :  what  is  asked  of  Mary  is  obtained,  not 
because  she  is  more  powerful,  but  because  God  decreed 
thus  to  honour  her,  that  men  may  know  that  she  caa 
obtain  all  things  from  God." 


VICE    OF    SPEAKING   IMMODESTLY.  299 


SEEMON  XL.— ELEVENTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  vice  of  speaking  immodestly. 

"He   touched   his   tongue, ....  and  the   string   of   his   tongue    was 
loosed." — MARK  vii.  33,  35. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  St.  Mark  relates  tlie  miracle  which 
our  Saviour  wrought  in  healing  the  man  that  was  dumb 
by  barely  touching  his  tongue.  "  He  touched  his  tongue 

and  the  string  of  his  tongue  was  loosed."     From. 

the  last  words  we  may  infer  that  the  man  was  not 
entirely  dumb,  but  that  his  tongue  was  not  free,  or  that 
his  articulation  was  not  distinct.  Hence  St.  Mark  tells 
us,  that  after  the  miracle  he  spoke  right.  Let  us  make 
the  application  to  ourselves.  The  dumb  man  stood  in 
need  of  a  miracle  to  loose  his  tongue,  and  to  take  away 
the  impediment  under  which  he  laboured.  But  how 
many  are  there  on  whom  God  would  confer  a  great 
grace,  if  he  bound  their  tongues,  that  they  might  cease 
to  speak  immodestly  !  This  vice  does  great  injury  to 
others.  Secondly,  it  does  great  injury  to  themselves. 
These  shall  be  the  two  points  of  this  sermon. 

First  Point.  The  man  who  speaks  immodestly  does 
great  injury  to  others  who  listen  to  him. 

1.  In  explaining  the  140th  Psalm,  St.  Augustine  calls 
those  who  speak  obscenely  "  the  mediators  of  Satan," 
the  ministers  of  Lucifer  ;  because,  by  their  obscene 
language,  the  demon  of  impurity  gets  access  to  souls, 
which  by  his  own  suggestions  he  could  not  enter.  Of 
their  accursed  tongues  St.  James  says:  "And  the  tongue 
is  a  fire,... being  set  on  fire  by  hell."  (James  iii.  6.)  He 
says  that  the  tongue  is  a  fire  kindled  by  hell,  with 
which  they  who  speak  obscenely  burn  themselves  and 
others.  The  obscene  tongue  may  be  said  to  be  the 
tongue  of  the  third  person,  of  which  Ecclesiasticus 
says  :  "  The  tongue  of  a  third  person  hath  disquieted 
many,  and  scattered  them  from  nation  to  nation."  (Eccl, 


300  SKRMOX    XL. 


xxviii.  16.)  The  spiritual  tongue  speaks  of  God,  the 
worldly  tongue  talks  of  worldly  affairs  ;  but  tlie  tongue 
of  a  third  person  is  a  tongue  of  hell,  which  speaks  of  the 
impurities  of  the  flesh  ;  and  this  is  the  tongue  that  per 
verts  many,  and  brings  them  to  perdition. 

2.  Speaking  of  the  life  of  men  on  this  earth,  the 
Royal  Prophet  says:  "Let  their  way  become  dark  and 
slippery."  (Ps.  xxxiv.  0.)     In  this  life  men  walk  in  the 
midist  of  darkness  and  in  a  slippery  way.     Hence  they 
are  in  danger  of  falling  at  every  step,  unless  they  cau 
tiously  examine  the  road  on  which  they  walk,  and  care 
fully  avoid  dangerous  steps — that  is,  the  occasions  of 
sin.     Now,  if  in  treading  this  slippery  way,  frequent 
efforts  were  made  to  throw  them  down,  would  it  not  be 
a  miracle  if  they  did  not  fall  ?     "  The  Mediators  of 
Satan,"  who  speak  obscenely,  impel  others  to  sin,  who, 
as  long  as  they  live  on  this  earth,  walk  in  the  midst  of 
darkness,  and  as  long  as  they  remain  in  the  flesh,  are  in 
danger  of  falling  into  the  vice  of  impurity.     Now,  of 
those  who  indulge  in  obscene  language,  it  has  been  well 
snid  :  "  Their  throat  is  an  open  sepulchre."  (Ps.  v.  11.) 
The  mouths  of  those  who  can  utter  nothing  but  filthy 
obscenities  are,  according  to  St.  Chrysostom,  so  many 
open  sepulchres  of  putrified  carcasses.      "  Talia  sunt  ora 
hominum  qui  turpia  proferunt."  (Horn,  ii.,  de  Proph.  Obs.) 
The  exhalation  which  arises  from  the  rottenness  of  a 
multitude  of  dead  bodies  thrown  together  into  a  pit, 
communicates  infection  and  disease  to  all  who  feel  the 
stench. 

3.  "  The   stroke   of    a   whip,"    says    Ecclesiasticus, 
"  maketh  a  blue  mark  ;  but  the  stroke  of  a  tongue  will 
break  the  bones."  (Eccl.  xxviii.  21.)     The  wounds  of 
the  lash  are  wounds  of  the  flesh,  but  the  wounds  of  the 
obscene  tongue  are  wounds  which  infect  the  bones  of 
those  who  listen  to  its  language.     St.  Bernardino   of 
Sienna  relates,  that  a  virgin  who  led  a  holy  life,  at  hear 
ing  an  obscene  word  from  a  young  man,  fell  into  a  bad 
thought,  and  afterwards  abandoned  herself  to  the  vice  of 
impurity  to  such  a  degree  that,  the  saint  says,  if  the 
devil  had  taken  human  flesh,  he  could  not  have  com 
mitted  so  many  sins  of  that  kind  as  she  committed. 

4.  The  misfortune  is,  that  the  mouths  of  hell  that 


VICE    OF    SPEAKING    IMMODESTLY.  301 


frequently  utter  immodest  words,  regard  them,  as  trifles, 
and  are  careless  about  confessing  them :  and  when 
rebuked  for  them  they  answer  :  "  I  say  these  words  in 
jest,  and  without  malice."  In  jest !  Unhappy  man, 
these  jests  make  the  devil  laugh,  and  shall  make  you 
weep  for  eternity  in  hell.  la  the  first  place,  it  is  useless 
to  say  that  you  utter  such  words  without  malice ;  for, 
when  you  use  such  expressions,  it  is  very  difficult  for 
you  to  abstain  from  acts  against  purity.  According  to 
St.  Jerome,  "  He  that  delights  in  words  is  not  far  from 
the  act/'  Besides,  immodest  words  spoken  before 
persons  of  a  different  sex,  are  always  accompanied  with 
sinful  complacency.  And  is  not  the  scandal  you  give 
to  others  criminal?  Utter  a  single  obscene  word,  and 
you  shall  bring  into  sin  all  who  listen  to  you.  Such  is 
the  doctrine  of  St.  Bernard.  "  One  speaks,  and  he 
Titters  only  one  word  ;  but  he  kills  the  souls  of  a  multi 
tude  of  hearers."  (Serm.  xxiv.,  in  Cant.)  A  greater  sin 
than  if,  by  one  discharge  of  a  blunderbuss,  you  mur 
dered  many  persons  ;  because  you  would  then  only  kill 
their  bodies  :  but,  by  speaking  obscenely,  you  have 
killed  their  souls. 

5.  In  a  word,  obscene  tongues  are  the  ruin  of  the 
world.  One  of  them  does  more  mischief  than  a  hun 
dred  devils  ;  because  it  is  the  cause  of  the  perdition  of 
many  souls.  This  is  not  my  language ;  it  is  the  lan 
guage  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  "  A  slippery  mouth  worketh 
ruin."  (Prov.  xxvi.  28.)  And  when  is  it  that  this  havoc 
of  souls  is  effected,  and  that  such  grievous  insults  arc 
offered  to  God  ?  It  is  in  the  summer,  at  the  time  when 
God  bestows  upon  you  the  greatest  temporal  blessings. 
It  is  then  that  he  supplies  you  for  the  entire  year  with 
corn,  wine,  oil,  and  other  fruits  of  the  earth.  It  is  then 
that  there  are  as  many  sins  committed  by  obscene  words, 
as  there  are  grains  of  corn  or  bunches  of  grapes.  O 
ingratitude  !  How  does  God  bear  with  us  ?  And  who 
is  the  cause  of  these  sins  ?  They  who  speak  immodestly 
are  the  cause  of  them.  Hence  they  must  render  an 
account  to  God,  and  shall  be  punished  for  all  the  sins 
committed  by  those  who  hear  them.  "But  I  will 
require  his  blood  at  thy  hand."  (Ezec.  iii.  11.)  But  let 
us  pass  to  the  second  point. 


302 


SKRMOX    XL. 


Second  Point.     He  who  speaks  immodestly  does  great 
ID  jury  to  himself. 

6.  Some  young  men  say :  "  I  speak  without  malice." 
In  answer  to  this  excuse,  I  have  already  said,  in  the  first 
point,  that  it  is  very  difficult  to  use  immodest  language 
without  taking  delight  in  it ;   and  that  speaking  ob 
scenely  hefore  young  females,  married  or  unmarried,  is 
always  accompanied  with  a  secret  complacency  in  what 
is   said.     Besides,   by   using   immodest   language,    you 
expose  yourself  to  the  proximate  danger  of  falling  into 
unchaste  actions  :  for,  according  to  St.  Jerome,  as  we 
have  already  said,  "  he  who  delights  in  words  is  not  far 
from  the  act."     All  men  are  inclined  to  evil.     "The 
imagination  and  thought  of  man's  heart  are  prone  to 
evil."  (Gen.  viii.  21.)     But,  above  all,  men  are  prone  to 
the  sin  of  impurity,  to  which  nature  itself  inclines  them. 
Hence  St.  Augustine  has  said,  that  in  struggling  against 
that  vice  "  the  victory  is  rare,"  at  least  for  those  who 
do  not  use  great  caution.     "  Communis  pugna  et  rara 
victoria."     Now,  the  impure  objects  of  which  they  speak 
are  always  presented  to  the  mind  of  those  who  freely 
utter  obscene  words.     These  objects  excite  pleasure,  and 
bring  them  into  sinful  desires  and  morose  delectations, 
and  afterwards  into  criminal  acts.     Behold  the  conse 
quence  of  the  immodest  words  which  young  men  say 
they  speak  without  malice. 

7.  "Be  not  taken  in  thy  tongue,"  says  the  Holy 
Ghost.  (Eccl.  v.  1C.)     Beware  lest  by  your  tongue  you 
forge   a   chain   which   will   drag   you   to  hell.     "  The 
tongue,"  says  St.  James,  "  defileth  the  whole  body,  and 
inflameth  the  wheel  of  our  nativity."  (St.  James'iii.  6.) 
The  tongue  is  one  of  the  members  of  the  body,  but 
when  it  utters  bad  words  it  infects  the  whole  body,  and 
"  inflames  the  wheels  of  our  nativity  ;"  it  inflames  and 
corrupts   our  entire   life   from   our   birth   to   old   age. 
Hence   we   see   that   men   who   indulge   in    obscenity, 
cannot,   even  in  old  age,   abstain  from  immodest  lan 
guage^    In  the  life  of  St.  Valerius,  Surius  relates  that 
the  saint,  in  travelling,  went  one  day  into  a  house  to 
warm  himself.     He  heard  the  master  of  the  house  and 
a  judge  of  the  district,  though  both  were  advanced  in 
years,  speaking  on   obscene  subjects.      The  saint  re- 


VICE    OF    SPEAKING   IMMODESTLY.  303 

proved  them  severely ;  but  they  paid  no  attention  to  his 
rebuke.  However,  God  punished  both  of  them :  one 
became  blind,  and  a  sore  broke  out  on  the  other,  which 
produced  deadly  spasms.  Henry  Gragerman  relates  (in 
Magn.  Spec.,  dist.  9,  ex.  58),  that  one  of  those  obscene 
talkers  died  suddenly  and  without  repentance,  and  that 
he  was  afterwards  seen  in  hell  tearing  his  tongue  in 
pieces  ;  and  when  it  was  restored  he  began  again  to 
lacerate  it. 

8.  But  how  can  God  have  mercy  on  him  who  has  no 
pity  on  the  souls  of  his  neighbours  ?  "  Judgment 
without  mercy  to  him  that  hath  not  done  mercy."  (St. 
James  ii.  13.)  Oh !  what  a  pity  to  see  one  of  those 
obscene  wretches  pouring  out  his  filthy  expressions 
before  girls  and  young  married  females !  The  greater 
the  number  of  such  persons  present,  the  more  abomin 
able  is  his  language.  It  often  happens  that  little  boys 
and  girls  are  present,  and  he  has  no  horror  of  scandaliz 
ing  these  innocent  souls  !  Cantipratano  relates  that  the 
son  of  a  certain  nobleman  in  Burgundy  was  sent  to  be 
educated  by  the  monks  of  Cluni.  He  was  an  angel  of 
purity ;  but  the  unhappy  boy  having  one  day  entered 
into  a  carpenter's  shop,  heard  some  obscene  words  spoken 
by  the  carpenter's  wile,  fell  into  sin,  and  lost  the  divine 
grace.  Father  Sabitano,  in  his  work  entitled  "  Evan 
gelical  Light,"  relates  that  another  boy,  fifteen  years  old, 
having  heard  an  immodest  word,  began  to  think  of  it 
the  following  night,  consented  to  a  bad  thought,  and 
died  suddenly  the  same  night.  His  confessor  having 
heard  of  his  death,  intended  to  say  Mass  for  him.  But 
the  soul  of  the  unfortunate  boy  appeared  to  him,  and 
told  the  confessor  not  to  celebrate  Mass  for  him — that, 
by  means  of  the  word  he  had  heard,  he  was  damned — • 
and  that  the  celebration  of  Mass  would  add  to  his  pains. 
O  God !  how  great,  were  it  in  their  power  to  weep, 
would  be  the  wailing  of  the  angel-guardians  of  these 
poor  children  that  are  scandalized  and  brought  to  hell 
by  the  language  of  obscene  tongues!  "With  what 
earnestness  shall  the  angels  demand  vengeance  from 
God  against  the  author  of  such  scandals !  That  the 
angels  shall  cry  for  vengeance  against  them,  appears 
from  the  words  of  Jesus  Christ :  "  See  that  you  despise 


304  SERMON    XL. 


not  one  of  these  little  ones  ;  for  I  say  to  you,  that  their 
angels  in  heaven  always  see  the  face  of  my  Father." 
(Matt,  xviii.  10.) 

9.  Be  attentive,  then,  my  "brethren,  and  guard  your 
selves  against  speaking  immodestly,  more  than  you  would 
against  death.  Listen  to  the  advice  of  the  Holy  Ghost : 
"  Make  a  balance  for  thy  words,  and  a  just  bridle  for  thy 
mouth  ;  and  take  heed  lest  thou  slip  with  thy  tongue — 
and  thy  fall  be  incurable  unto  death."  (Eccl.  xxvhi.  29, 
30.)  "  Make  a  balance" — you  must  weigh  your  words 
before  you  utter  them — and  "  a  bridle  for  thy  mouth" — 
when  immodest  words  come  to  the  tongue,  you  must 
suppress  them  ;  otherwise,  by  uttering  them,  you  shall 
inflict  on  your  own  soul,  and  on  the  souls  of  others,  a 
mortal  and  incurable  wound.  God  has  given  you  the 
tongue,  not  to  offend  him,  but  to  praise  and  bless  him. 
"  But/'  says  St.  Paul,  "  fornication  and  all  uncleanness, 
let  it  not  so  much  as  be  named  among  you,  as  becometh 
saints."  (Ephes.  v.  3.)  Mark  the  words  "  all  unclean- 
ness."  We  must  not  only  abstain  from  obscene  language 
and  from  every  word  of  double  meaning  spoken  in  jest, 
but  also  from  every  improper  word  unbecoming  a 
saint — that  is,  a  Christian.  It  is  necessary  to 
remark,  that  words  of  double  meaning  sometimes  do 
greater  evil  than  open  obscenity,  because  the  art  with 
which  they  are  spoken  makes  a  deeper  impression  on, 
the  mind. 

]  0.  Keflcct,  says  St.  Augustine,  that  your  mouths  are 
the  mouths  of  Christians,  which  Jesus  Christ  has  so 
often  entered  in  the  holy  communion.  Hence,  you 
ought  to  have  a  horror  of  uttering  all  unchaste  words, 
which  are  a  diabolical  poison.  "  See,  brethren,  if  it  be 
just  that,  from  the  mouths  of  Christians,  which  the 
body  of  Christ  enters,  an  immodest  song,  like  diabolical 
poison,  should  proceed."  (Serm.  xv.,  de  Temp.)  St.  Paul 
says,  that  the  language  of  a  Christian  should  be  always 
seasoned  with  salt.  "  Let  your  speech  be  always  in 
grace,  seasoned  with  salt.''  (Col.  iv.  6.)  Our  conversa 
tion  should  be  seasoned  with  words  calculated  to  excite 
others  not  to  offend,  but  to  love  God.  "  Happy  the 
tongue,"  says  St.  Bernard,  "  that  knows  only  how  to 
speak  of  holy  things  !"  Happy  the  tongue  that  knows 


VICE    OF    SPEAKING    IMMODESTLY.  305 

only  how  to  speak  of  God  !  0  brethren,  be  careful  not 
only  to  abstain  from  all  obscene  language,  but  to  avoid, 
as  you  would  a  plague,  those  who  speak  immodestly. 
When  you  hear  any  one  begin  to  utter  obscene  words, 
follow  the  advice  of  the  Holy  Ghost :  "  Hedge  in  thy 
ears  with  thorns:  hear  not  a  wicked  tongue."  (Eccl. 
xxviii.  28.)  "Hedge  in  thy  ears  with  thorns"— that  is, 
reprove  with  zeal  the  man  who  speaks  obscenely ;  at  least 
turn  away  your  face,  and  show  that  you  hate  such  language. 
Let  us  not  be  ashamed  to  appear  to  be  followers  of  Jesus 
Christ,  unless  we  wish  Jesus  Christ  to  be  ashamed  to 
bring  us  with  him  into  Paradise. 

SERMON  XLL— TWELFTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  abuse  of  divine  mercy. 

"  Take  care  of  him." — LUKE  x.  35. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  we  read,  that  a  certain  man  fell  into 
the  hands  of  robbers,  who,  after  having  taken  his 
money,  wounded  him,  and  left  him  half  dead.  A 
Samaritan  who  passed  by,  saw  him,  and  taking  pity  on 
him,  bound  up  his  wounds,  brought  him  to  an  inn,  and 
left  him  to  the  care  of  the  host,  saying  :  "  Take  care  of 
him."  These  words  I  this  day  address  to  those,  if  there 
be  any  such  among  you,  who,  though  their  souls  are 
wounded  by  sin,  instead  of  attending  to  the  care  of 
them,  continually  aggravate  the  wounds  by  new  sins, 
and  thus  abuse  the  mercy  of  God,  who  preserves  their 
lives,  that  they  may  repent,  and  not  be  lost  for  ever.  I 
say  to  you :  Brethren,  take  care  of  your  souls,  which  are 
in  a  very  bad  state ;  have  compassion  on  them.  "  Have 
pity  on  thy  own  soul."  (Eccl.  xxx.  24.)  Your  souls  are 
sick,  and— what  is  worse — they  are  near  the  eternal 
death  of  hell ;  for  he  who  abuses  to  excess  the  divine 
mercy,  is  on  the  point  of  being  abandoned  by  the 
mercy  of  God.  This  shall  be  the  subject  of  the  present 
discourse. 

^  1.  St.  Augustine  says  that  the  devil  deludes  Chris 
tians  in  two  ways—"  by  despair  and  hope."     After  a 


306  SKKMON    XLI. 


person  has  committed  sin,  the  enemy,  by  placing  before 
his  eyes  the  rigour  of  divine  justice,  tempts  him  to  despair 
of  the  mercy  of  God.  But,  before  he  sins,  the  devil  by 
representing  to  him  the  divine  mercy,  labours  to  make 
him  fearless  of  the  chastisement  due  to  sin.  Hence  the 
saint  gives  the  following  advice  :  "  After  sin,  hope  for 
mercy ;  before  sin,  fear  justice."  If,  after  sin,  you 
despair  of  God's  pardon,  you  offend  him  by  a  new  and 
more  grievous  sin.  Have  recourse  to  his  mercy,  and  he 
\vill  pardon  you.  But,  before  sin,  fear  God's  justice,  and 
trust  not  to  his  mercy ;  for,  they  who  abuse  the  mercy 
of  God  to  offend  him,  do  not  deserve  to  be  treated  with 
mercy.  Abulensis  says,  that  the  man  who  offends  justice 
may  have  recourse  to  mercy;  but  to  whom  can  they  have 
recourse,  who  offend  and  provoke  mercy  against  them 
selves  ? 

2.  When  you  intend  to  commit  sin,  who,  I  ask,  pro 
mises  you  mercy  from  God  ?  Certainly  God  does  not 
promise  it.  It  is  the  devil  that  promises  it,  that  you  may 
lose  God  and  be  damned.  "  Beware,"  says  St.  John 
Chrysostom,  '•  never  to  attend  to  that  dog  that  promises 
thee  mercy  from  God."  (Horn.  50,  ad  Pop.)  If,  beloved 
sinners,  you  have  hitherto  offended  God,  hope  and 
tremble :  if  you  desire  to  give  up  sin,  and  if  you  detest 
it,  hope ;  because  God  promises  pardon  to  all  who  repent 
of  the  evil  they  have  done.  But  if  you  intend  to  continue 
in  your  sinful  course,  tremble  lest  God  should  wait  no 
longer  for  you,  but  cast  you  into  hell.  Why  does  God 
•wait  for  sinners  ?  Is  it  that  they  may  continue  to  insult 
him  ?  No  ;  he  waits  for  them  that  they  may  renounce 
sin,  and  that  thus  he  may  have  pity  on  them,  and  forgive 
them.  "  Therefore  the  Lord  waiteth,  that  he  may  have 
mercy  on  you."  (Isa.  xxx.  1,  8.)  But  when  he  sees  that 
the  time  which  he  gave  them  to  weep  over  their  past  ini 
quities  is  spent  in  multiplying  their  sins,  he  begins  to 
inflict  chastisement,  and  he  cuts  them  off  in  the  state  of 
sin,  that,  by  dying,  they  may  cease  to  offend  him.  Then 
he  calls  against  them  the  very  time  he  had  given  them 
for  repentance.  "  He  hath  called  against  me  the  time." 
(Lam.  i.  15.)  "  The  very  time/'  says  St.  Gregory, 
"  comes  to  judge." 

3.  0  common  illusion  of  so  many  damned  Christians ! 


ABUSE    OF  DIVINE    MERCY.  307 

We  seldom  find  a  sinner  so  abandoned  to  despair  as  to 
say  :  I  will  damn  myself.    Christians  sin,  and  endeavour 
to  save  their  souls.     They  say:  "  God  is  merciful :  I  will 
commit  this  sin,  and  will  afterwards  confess  it."   Behold 
the  illusion,  or  rather  the  snare,  by  which  Satan  draws 
so  many  souls  to  hell.     "  Commit  sin,"  he  says,  "  and 
confess  it  afterwards."    But  listen  to  what  the  Lord  says : 
"  And  say  not,  the  mercy  of  the  Lord  is  great ;  he  will 
have  mercy  on  the  multitude  of  my  sins."  (Eccl.  v.  6.) 
"YY'hy  does  he  tell  you  not  to  say,  that  the  mercy  of  God 
is  great  ?     Attend  to  the  words  contained  in  the  follow 
ing  verse  :   "For  mercy  and  wrath  come  quickly  from 
him,  and  his  wrath  looketh  upon  sinners."  (Ibid.,  ver.  7.) 
The  mercy  of  God  is  different  from  the  acts  of  his  mercy; 
the  former  is  infinite,  the  latter  are  finite.     God  is  mer 
ciful,  but  he  is  also  just.     St.  Basil  says,  that  sinners 
only  consider  God  as  merciful  and  ready  to  pardon,  but 
not  as  just  and  prepared  to  inflict  punishment.     Of  this 
the  Lord  complained  one  day  to  St.  Bridget:  "I  am  just 
and  merciful:  sinners  regard  me  only  as  merciful."     St. 
Basil's  words  are :  tf  Bonus  est  Dominus  sed  etiam  Justus, 
nolimus  Deum  ex  dimidia  parte  cogitare."     God  is  just, 
and,  being  just,  he  must  punish  the  ungrateful.     Father 
John  Avila  used  to  say,  that  to  bear  with  those  who  avail 
themselves  of  the  mercy  of  God  to  offend  him,  would  not 
be  mercy,  but  a  want  of  justice.     Mercy,  as  the  divine 
mother  said,  is  promised  to  those  who  fear,  and  not  to 
those  who  insult  the  Lord.  fi  And  his  mercy  to  them  that 
fear  him."  (Luke  i. .50.) 

4.  Some  rash  sinners  will  say :  God  has  hitherto 
shown  me  so  many  mercies ;  why  should  he  not  here 
after  treat  me  with  the  same  mercy  ?  I  answer :  he  will 
show  you  mercy,  if  you  wish  to  change  your  life ;  but 
if  you  intend  to  continue  to  offend  him,  he  tells  you 
that  he  will  take  vengeance  on  your  sins  by  casting  you 
into  hell.  "Revenge  is  mine,  and  I  will  repay  them  in 
due  time,  that  their  foot  may  slide."  (Deut.  xxxii.  35.) 
David  says,  that  "  except  you  be  converted,  he  will 
"brandish  his  sword."  (Ps.  vii.  13.)  The  Lord  has  bent 
his  bow,  and  waits  for  your  conversion;  but  if  you 
resolve  not  to  return  to  him,  he  will  in  the  end  cast  the 
arrow  against  you,  and  you  shall  be  damned.  0  God  I 


308  SERMON    XLI. 


there  are  some  who  will  not  believe  that  there  is  a  hell 
until  they  fall  into  it.  Can  you,  beloved  Christians, 
complain  of  the  mercies  of  God,  after  he  has  shown  you 
so  many  mercies  by  waiting  for  you  so  long  ?  You 
ought  to  remain  always  prostrate  on  the  earth  to  thank 
him  for  his  mercies,  saying  :  "  The  mercies  of  the  Lord 
that  we  are  not  consumed."  (Lamen.  iii.  32.)  Were  the 
injuries  which  you  offered  to  God  committed  against  a 
brother,  he  would  not  have  borne  with  you.  God  has 
had  so  much  patience  with  you ;  and  he  now  calls  you 
again.  If,  after  all  this,  he  shall  send  you  to  hell,  will 
he  do  you  any  wrong  ?  "  What  is  there,"  he  will  say, 
"  that  I  ought  to  do  more  for  my  vineyard,  that  I  have 
not  done  to  it  ?"  (Isa.  v.  4.)  Impious  wreich !  what 
more  ought  I  to  do  for  you  that  I  have  not  done  ? 

5.  St.  Bernard  says,  that  the  confidence  which  sinners 
have  in  God's  goodness  when  they  commit  sin,  procures 
for  them,  not  a  blessing,  but  a  malediction  from  the 
Lord.  "  Est  infidelis  fiducia  solius  ubique  maledictionis 
capax,  cum  videlicet  in  spe  peccamus."  (Serin,  iii.,  de 
Ammnc.)  O  deceitful  hope,  which  sends  so  many 
Christians  to  hell!  St.  Augustine  says:  "Sperant,  ut 
pcccent !  Vrc  a  perversa  spe."  (In  Ps.  cxliv.)  They  do 
not  hope  for  the  pardon  of  the  sins  of  which  they 
repent;  but  they  hope  that,  though  they  continue  to 
commit  sin,  God  will  have  mercy  upon  them  ;  and  thus 
they  make  the  mercy  of  God  serve  as  a  motive  for  con 
tinuing  to  offend  him.  0  accursed  hope  !  hope  which 
is  an  abomination  to  the  Lord  !  "  And  their  hope  the 
abomination/'  (Job  xi.  20.)  This  hope  will  make  God 
hasten  the  execution  of  his  vengeance;  for  surely  a 
master  will  not  defer  the  punishment  of  servants  who 
offend  him  because  he  is  good.  Sinners,  as  St.  Augus 
tine  observes,  trusting  in  God's  goodness,  insult  him, 
and  say:  "God  is  good;  I  will  do  what  I  please.'' 
(Tract,  xxxiii.  in  Joan.)  But,  alas  !  how  many,  exclaims 
the  same  St.  Augustine,  has  this  vain  hope  deluded  ! 
"  They  who  have  been  deceived  by  this  shadow  of  vain 
hope  cannot  be  numbered."  St.  Bernard  writes,  that 
Lucifer's  chastisement  was  accelerated,  because,  in 
rebellion  against  God,  he  hoped  that  he  should  not  be 
punished  lor  his  rebellion.  Ainmoii,  the  son  of  king. 


ABUSE    OF    DIVINE   MERCY.  309 

IVIanasses,  seeing  that  God  had  pardoned  the  sins  of  his 
father,  gave  himself  up  to  a  wicked  life  with  the  hope 
of  pardon ;  but,  for  Ammon  there  was  no  mercy.  St. 
John  Chrysostom  says,  that  Judas  was  lost  because, 
trusting  in  the  goodness  of  Jesus  Christ,  he  betrayed 
him.  "  Fidit  in  lenitate  Magistri." 

6.  He  that  sins  with,  the  hope  of  pardon,  saying  :  "  I 
will  afterwards  repent,  and  God  will  pardon  me :"  is, 
according  to  St.   Augustine,   "  not   a   penitent,   but   a 
scoffer."      The    Apostle    tells   us   that    "God   is   not 
mocked."  (Gal.  vi.  7.)     It  would  be  a  mockery  of  God 
to  offend  him  as  often  and  as  long  as  you  please,  and 
always  to  receive  the  pardon  of  your  offences.     "  For 
what  things  a  man  shall  sow,"  says  St.  Paul,  "those  also 
shall  he  reap."  (Ibid.,  ver.  8.)     They  who  sow  sins,  can 
hope   for   nothing   but   the   hatred  of  God   and   hell. 
"  Despisest  thou  the  riches  of  his  goodness,  and  patience, 
and  long-suffering."  (Rom.  ii.  4.)     Do  you,  O  sinner, 
despise  the  riches  of  the  goodness,  of  the  patience,  and 
long-suffering  of  God  towards  you  ?     He  uses  the  word 
riches,  because  the  mercies  which  God  shows  us,  in  not 
punishing  our  sins,  are  riches  more  valuable  to  us  than 
all   treasures.      "  Knowest    thou   not/'   continues    the 
Apostle,  "that  the  benignity  of  God  leadeth  thee  to 
penance  ?"    (Ibid.)     Do  you  not  know  that  the  Lord 
waits  for  you,  and  treats  you  with  so  much  benignity, 
not  that  you  may  continue  to  sin,  but  that  you  may 
weep  over  the  offences  you  have  offered  to  him  ?     For, 
says  St.  Paul,  if  you  persevere  in  sin  and  do  not  repent, 
your  obstinacy  and  impenitence  shall  accumulate  a  trea 
sure  of  wrath  against  the  day  of  wrath,  that  is,  the  day 
on  which  God  shall  judge  you.      "According  to  thy 
hardness  and  impenitent  heart,  thou  treasurest  up  wrath, 
against  the  day  of  wrath,  and  revelation  of  the  just 
judgment  of  God."  (Ibid.,  verse  5.) 

7.  To  the  hardness  of  the  sinner  shall  succeed  his 
abandonment  by  God,  who  shall  say  of  the  soul  that  is 
obstinate  in  sin,  what  he  said  of  Babylon :  "  We  would 
have  cured  Babylon ;    but  she  is  not  healed ;    let  us 
forsake  her."  (Jer.  li.  9.)     And  how  does  God  abandon 
the  sinner?     He  either  sends  him  a  sudden  death,  and 
cuts  him  off  in  sin,  or  he  deprives  him  of  the  graces 


310  SERMON   XLI. 


which  would  be  necessary  to  bring  him  to  true  repent 
ance  ;  he  leaves  him  with  the  sufficient  graces  with 
which  he  can,  but  will  not,  save  his  soul.  The  darkness 
of  his  understanding,  the  hardness  of  his  heart,  and  the 
bad  habits  which  he  has  contracted,  will  render  his 
conversion  morally  impossible.  Thus,  he  shall  not  be 
absolutely  but  morally  abandoned.  "  I  will  take  away 
the  hedge  thereof,  and  it  shall  be  wasted."  (Isa.  v.  5.) 
When  the  master  of  the  vineyard  destroys  its  hedges, 
does  he  not  show  that  he  abandons  it  ?  It  is  thus  that 
God  acts  when  he  abandons  a  soul.  He  takes  away 
the  hedge  of  holy  fear  and  remorse  of  conscience,  and 
leaves  the  soul  in  darkness,  and  then  vices  crowd  into 
the  heart.  "  Thou  hast  appointed  darkness,  and  it  is 
night:  in  it  shall  all  the  beasts  of  the  wood  go  about.'* 
(Ps.  ciii.  20.)  And  the  sinner,  abandoned  in  an  abyss  of 
sins,  will  despise  admonitions,  excommunications,  divine 
grace,  chastisement,  and  hell :  he  will  make  a  jest  of  his 
own  damnation.  "  The  wicked  man,  when  he  is  come 
into  the  depth  of  sin,  contemneth."  (Prov.  xviii.  3.) 

8.  "  Why,"  asks  the   Prophet  Jeremias,  "  doth  the 
way  of  the  wicked  prosper?"  (Jer.  xii.  1.)     He  answers  : 
"  Gather  them  together  as  sheep  for  a  sacrifice."  (v.  3.) 
Miserable  the  sinner   who  is  prosperous  in  this  life! 
The  prosperity  of  sinners  is  a  sign  that  God  wishes  to 
give  them  a  temporal  reward  for  some  works  which  are 
morally  good,  but  that  he  reserves  them  as  victims  of 
his  justice  for  hell,  where,  like  the  accursed  cockle,  they 
shall  be  cast  to  burn  for  all  eternity.     "In  the  time  of 
the  harvest,  I  will  say  to  the  reapers:  Gather  up  the  first 
cockle,  and  bind  it  in  bundles  to  burn."  (Matt.  xiii.  DO.) 

9.  Thus,  not  to  be  punished  in  this  life  is  the  greatest 
of  God's  chastisements  on  the  wicked,  and  has  been 
threatened  against  the  obstinate  sinner  by  the  Prophet 
Isaias.     "  Let  us  have  pity  on  the  wicked,  but  he  will 
not  learn  justice."  (Isa.  xxvi.  10.)     On  this  passage  St. 
Bernard  says:  This  mercy  I  do  not  wish  for:  it  is  above 
all  wrath.     "  Misericordiam  hanc  nolo;  super  oimiem 
iram  misericordia  ista."    (Serin,  xlii.,  in  Cant.)      And 
what  greater  chastisement  than  to  be  abandoned  into  the 
Lands  of  sin,  so  that,  being  permitted   by  God  to  fall 
from  sin  to  sin,  the  sinner  must  in  the  end  go  to  suffer 


ABUSE    OF    DIVINK   MERCY.  311 

as  many  hells  as  he  has  committed  sins  ?  "  Add  thou 
iniquity  upon  their  iniquity.  ..  .let  them  he  "blotted  out 
of  the  book  of  the  living."  (Ps.  Ixviii.  28,  29.)  On  these 
words  Bellarmine  writes  :  "  There  is  no  punishment 
greater  than  when  sin  is  the  punishment  of  sin."  It 
would  be  better  for  such  a  sinner  to  die  after  the  first 
sin ;  because  by  dying  under  the  load  of  so  many  addi 
tional  iniquities,  he  shall  suffer  as  many  hells  as  he  has 
committed  sins.  This  is  what  happened  to  a  certain 
comedian  in  Palermo,  whose  name  was  Ca3sar.  He  one 
day  told  a  friend  that  Father  La  JSTusa,  a  missionary, 
foretold  him  that  God  should  give  him  twelve  years  to 
live,  and  that  if  within  that  time  he  did  not  change  his 
life,  he  should  die  a  bad  death.  Now,  said  he  to  his 
friend,  I  have  travelled  through  so  many  parts  of  the 
world  :  I  have  had  many  attacks  of  sickness,  one  of 
which  nearly  brought  me  to  the  grave ;  but  in  this 
month  the  twelve  years  shall  be  completed,  and  I  feel 
myself  in  better  health  than  in  any  of  the  past  years. 
He  then  invited  his  friend  to  listen  to  a  new  comedy 
which  he  had  composed.  But,  what  happened  ?  On 
the  24th  November,  1688,  the  day  fixed  for  the  comedy, 
as  he  was  going  on  the  stage,  he  was  seized  with  apo 
plexy,  and  died  suddenly.  He  expired  in  the  arms  of  a 
female  comedian.  Thus  the  scene  of  this  world  ended 
miserably  for  him. 

10.  Let  us  make  the  application  to  ourselves,  and 
conclude  the  discourse.  Brethren,  I  entreat  you  to  give 
a  glance  at  all  the  bygone  years  of  your  life  :  look  at 
the  grievous  offences  you  have  committed  against  God, 
and  at  the  great  mercies  which  he  has  shown  to  you, 
the  many  lights  he  has  bestowed  upon  you,  and  the 
many  times  he  has  called  you  to  a  change  of  life.  By 
this  sermon  he  has  to-day  given  you  a  new  call.  He 
appears  to  me  to  say  to  you  :  *'  What  is  there  that  I 
ought  to  do  to  my  vineyard,  that  I  have  not  done  to 
it  ?"  (Isa.  v.  4.)  What  more  ought  I  to  do  for  you  that 
I  have  not  done?  What  do  you  say  ?  What  answer 
have  you  to  make  ?  Will  you  give  yourselves  to  God, 
or  will  you  continue  to  offend  him  ?  Consider,  says  St. 
Augustine,  that  the  punishment  of  your  sins  has  been 
deferred,  not  remitted.  "  0  unfruitful  tree !  the  axe 


312  SEKMON    XL1. 


has  been  deferred.  Be  not  secure :  you  shall  be  cut 
off."  If  you  abuse  the  divine  mercy,  you  shall  be  cut 
off ;  vengeance  shall  soon  fall  upon  you.  What  do  you 
wait  for  ?  Do  you  wait  till  God  sends  you  to  hell  ? 
The  Lord  has  been  hitherto  silent ;  but  he  is  not  silent 
for  ever.  When  the  time  of  vengeance  shall  arrive  he 
will  say  :  "  These  things  hast  thou  done,  and  I  was 
silent.  Thou  thoughtest  unjustly  that  I  should  be  like 
to  thee :  but  I  will  reprove  thee,  and  set  before  thy 
face.''  (Ps.  xlix.  21.)  He  will  set  before  your  eyes  the 
graces  which  he  bestowed  upon  you,  and  which  you 
have  despised  :  these  very  graces  shall  judge  and  con 
demn  you.  0  brethren,  resist  no  longer  the  calls  of 
God  ;  tremble  lest  the  call  which  he  gives  you  to-day 
may  be  the  last  call  for  you.  Go  to  confession  as  soon 
as  possible,  and  make  a  firm  resolution  to  change  your 
lives.  It  is  useless  to  confess  your  sins,  if  you  after 
wards  return  to  your  former  vices.  But  you  will  per 
haps  say,  that  you  have  not  strength  to  resist  the 
temptations  by  which  you  are  assailed.  Listen  to  the 
words  of  the  Apostle:  "  God  is  faithful,  who  will  not 
permit  you  to  be  tempted  above  that  which  you  are 
able."  (1  Cor.  x.  13.)  God  is  faithful:  he  will  not  per 
mit  you  to  be  tempted  above  your  strength.  And  if  of 
yourself  you  have  not  strength  to  overcome  the  devil, 
ask  it  from  God,  and  he  will  give  it  to  you.  "  Ask, 
and  you  shall  receive."  (John  xvi.  24.)  "Praising," 
said  David,  "  I  will  call  on  the  Lord,  and  I  shall  be 
saved  from  my  enemies."  (Ps.  xvii.  4.)  And  St.  Paul 
said :  "  I  can  do  all  things  in  him  who  strengthened 
me."  (Phil.  iv.  13.)  Of  myself  I  can  do  nothing  ;  but 
with  the  divine  assistance  I  can  do  all  things.  Recom 
mend  yourselves  to  God  in  all  temptations,  and  God  will 
enable  you  to  resist  them,  and  you  shall  not  fall. 


AVOIDING    BAD   COMPANY.  313 


SEEMON   LXIL— THIRTEENTH  SUNDAY 
AFTER  PENTECOST. 

On  avoiding  bad  company. 

'"  There  met  him  ten  men  that  were  lepers... As  they  went,  they 
were  made  clean." — LUKE  xvii.  12,  14. 

IN  this  day's  gospel  it  is  related,  that  ten  lepers  of  a 
certain  town  met  Jesus  Christ,  and  entreated  him  to 
heal  the  leprosy  under  which  they  laboured.  The  Lord 
bid  them  go  and  present  themselves  to  the  priests  of  the 
temple ;  but  before  they  reached  the  temple  they  were 
cured.  Now  it  may  be  asked  why  our  Saviour,  who 
could  heal  them  in  an  instant,  wished  them  to  go  to  the 
priests,  and  healed  them  on  the  way.  A  certain  author 
(Anthony  of  Lisbon)  says  that  Jesus  Christ  foresaw 
that,  had  he  cured  them  on  the  spot,  they,  by  remaining 
in  the  place  and  conversing  with  the  other  lepers,  from 
whom  they  took  the  leprosy,  should  easily  relapse  into 
the  same  disease.  Therefore,  he  first  wished  them  to 
depart  from  the  place  and  then  healed  them.  What 
ever  may  be  thought  of  this  reason,  let  us  come  to  the 
moral  sense  which  may  be  deduced  from  it.  The  leprosy 
resembles  sin.  As  the  leprosy  is  a  contagious  disease, 
so  the  bad  habits  of  the  wicked  infect  others  who  asso 
ciate  with  them.  Hence,  the  leper  who  wishes  to  be 
cured  shall  never  be  healed  unless  he  separates  from 
bad  companions.  He  that  keeps  company  with  robbers 
soon  becomes  a  thief.  In  this  discourse  I  shall  show, 
that,  to  lead  a  good  life,  it  is  necessary  to  avoid  bad 
companions. 

1.  "A  friend  of  fools,"  says  the  Holy  Ghost,  "shall 
become  like  them."  (Prov.  xiii.  20.)  Christians  who 
live  in  enmity  with  God  are,  Father  M.  Avila  used  to 
say,  all  fools,  who  deserve  to  be  shut  up  in  a  mad-house. 
For,  what  greater  madness  can  be  conceived  than  to 
believe  in  hell  and  to  live  in  sin  ?  But  the  man  who 
contracts  an  intimacy  with  these  fools  shall  soon  be 
come  like  them.  Although  he  should  hear  all  the 


314  SERMOX    LXII. 


sermons  of  the  sacred  orators,  lie  will  continue  in  vice, 
according  to  the  celebrated  maxim:  "  Examples  make 
greater  impressions  than  words."  Hence  the  Royal 
Prophet  has  said :  "  With  the  elect  thou  wilt  be  elect, 
and  with  the  perverse  thou  wilt  be  perverted."  (Ps. 
xvii.  27.)  St.  Augustine  says,  that  familiarity  with 
sinners  is  as  it  were  a  hook  which  draws  us  to  commu 
nicate  in  their  vices.  Let  us,  said  the  saint,  avoid 
wicked  friends,  "  lest  by  their  company  we  may  be 
drawn  to  a  communion  of  vice."  St.  Thomas  teaches, 
that  to  know  whom  we  should  avoid  is  a  great  means  of 
saving  our  souls.  •'  Firma  tutela  salutis  est,  sciro  quern 
fugiamus." 

2.  "  Let  their  way  become  dark  and  slippery,  and  let 
the  angel  of  the  Lord  pursue  them."  (Ps.  xxxiv.  6.) 
All  men  in  this  life  walk  in  the  midst  of  darkness  and 
in  a  slippery  way.  If,  then,  a  bad  angel — that  is,  a 
wicked  companion,  who  is  worse  than  any  devil — 
pursue  them,  and  endeavour  to  drive  them  into  an 
abyss,  who  shall  be  able  to  escape  death  ?  "  Talis  eris," 
says  Plato,  "  qualis  conversatio  quam  sequeris  ?"  And 
St.  John  Chrysostom  said,  that  if  we  wish  to  know  a 
man's  moral  habits,  we  have  only  to  observe  the  charac 
ter  of  the  friends  with  whom  he  associates ;  because 
friendship  finds  or  makes  him  like  his  friends.  "  Vis 
nosse  hominem,  attende  quorum  familiaritate  assuescat : 
amicitia  aut  pares  invenit,  aut  pares  fecit."  First, 
because,  to  please  his  friends,  a  man  will  endeavour  to 
imitate  them  ;  secondly,  because,  as  Seneca  says,  nature 
inclines  men  to  do  what  they  see  others  do.  And  the 
Scripture  says :  *'  They  were  mingled  among  the  heathens, 
and  learned  their  works."  (Ps.  cv.  35.)  According  to 
St.  Basil,  as  air  which  comes  from  pestilential  places 
causes  infection,  so,  by  conversation  with  bad  com 
panions,  we  almost  imperceptibly  contract  their  vices. 
"  Quemadmodum  in  pestilentibus  locis  sensim  attractus 
aer  latentem  corporibus  morbuin  injicit  sic  itidem  in 
prava  couversatione  maxima  a  nobis  mala  hauriuntur, 
etiamsi  statim  incommodum  non  sentiatur."  (St.  Bas., 
horn,  ix.,  ex  var.  quod  Deus,  etc.)  And  St.  Bernard 
says  that  St.  Peter,  in  consequence  of  associating  with 
the  enemies  of  Jesus  Christ,  denied  his  Master. 


AVOIDING   BAD   COMPANY.  315 

"  Existens  cum  passionis  dominicso  ministris,  Doininum, 
negavit." 

3.  But  how,  asks  St.  Ambrose,  can  bad  companions 
give  you  the  odour  of  chastity,  when  they  exhale  the 
stench  of  impurity  ?      How  can  they  infuse  into  you 
sentiments  of  devotion  when  they  themselves  fly  from 
it  ?     How  can  they  impart  to  you  a  shame  of  offending 
God,  when  they  cast  it  away  ?     "  Quid  tibi  demonstrant 
castitatem,  quern  non  habent  ?     Devotionem  quam  non 
sequuntur  ?  Verecundiam  quam  projiciunt?"   St.  Augus 
tine  writes  of  himself,  that  when  he  associated  with 
bad  companions,  who  boasted  of  their  wickedness,  he 
felt  himself  impelled  to  sin   without   shame ;    and   to 
appear  like  them,  he  gloried  in  his  evil  actions.     "  Pu- 
debat,"  he  says,  "  me  esse  pudentem."  (Lib.  2,  de  Conf., 
c.  ix.)     Hence  Isaias  admonishes  you  to  "  touch  no  un 
clean  thing."  (Isa.  lii.  11.)     Touch  not  what  is  unclean: 
if  you  do,  you  too  shall  be  polluted.     He  that  handles 
pitch,  says  Ecclesiasticus,  shall  certainly  be  denied  with 
it ;  and  they  who  keep  company  with  the  proud  shall 
be  clothed  with  pride.     The  same  holds  for  other  vices  : 
"  He  that  toucheth  pitch  shall  be  denied  with  it ;  and 
he  that  hath  fellowship  with  the  proud  shall  put  on 
pride."  (Eccl.  xiii.  1.) 

4.  What  then  must  we  do  ?     The  Wise  Man  tells  us 
that  we  ought  not  only  to  avoid  the  vices  of  the  wicked, 
but  also  to  beware  of  treading  in  the  ways  in  which 
they   walk.      "  Restrain   thy   foot   from    their   paths." 
(Prov.  i.  15.)     That  is,  we  should  avoid  their  conversa 
tions,  their  discourses,  their  feasts,  and  all  the  allure 
ments  and  presents  with  which  they  will  seek  to  entice 
us  into  their  net.     "  My  son,"  says  Solomon,  "if  sinners 
shall  entice  thee,   consent  not  to  them."  (Prov.  i.  10.) 
Without   the   decoy,    birds   are   not   enticed   into    the 
fowler's  net.     "  Will  the  bird  fall  into  the  snare  upon 
the  earth  if  there  be  no  fowler  ?"  (Amos  iii.  5.)     The 
devil  employs  vicious  friends  as  decoys,  to  draw  so  many 
souls  into  the  snare  of  sin.     "  My  enemies,"  says  Jere- 
mias,   "  have  chased  me,   and  have  caught  me  like  a 
bird  without  cause."  (Lamen.  iii.  52.)     He  says,  without 
cause.     Ask  the  wicked  why  they  have  made  a  certain 
innocent  young  man  fall  into  sin,  and  they  will  answer : 


316  SERMON    XIYII. 


We  have  done  it  without  cause ;  we  only  wish  to  see 
him  do  what  we  ourselves  do.  This,  says  St.  Ephrem, 
is  one  of  the  artifices  of  the  devil :  when  he  has  caught 
a  soul  in  his  net,  he  makes  him  a  snare,  or  a  decoy,  to 
deceive  others.  "  Cum  primum  capta  fuerit,  anima,  ad 
alias  decipiendas  fit  quasi  laqueus." 

5.  Hence,  it  is  necessary  to  avoid,  as  you  would  a 
plague,  all  familiarity  with  those  scorpions  of  hell.     I 
have  said  that  you  must  avoid  familiarity  with  them — 
that  is,  all  fellowship  in  their  banquets  or  conversation ; 
for  never  to  meet  them  is,  as  the  Apostle  says,  impos 
sible.     "  Otherwise  you  must  needs  go  out  of  this  world." 
(1  Cor.  v.  10.)     But,  it  is  in  our  power  to  abstain  from 
familiar  intercourse  with  them.      "  But   now   I   have 
written  to  you  not  to  keep  company,  etc. — with  such  a 
one,  not  so  much  as  to  eat."  (Ibid.  v.  11.)     I  have 
called  them  scorpions :  so  they  have  been  called  by  the 
Prophet  Ezechiel.     "  Thou  art  among  unbelievers  and 
destroyers,  and  thou  dwellest  among  scorpions."  (Ezec. 
ii.  6  )     Would  you  live  in  the  midst  of  scorpions  ?     You 
must,  then,  fly  from  scandalous  friends,  who,  by  their 
bad  examples  and  words,  poison  your  soul.     "  A  man's 
enemies  shall  be  they  of  his  own  household."  (Matt.  x. 
36.)     Wicked  friends,  that  are  very  familiar  and  intimate 
with  us,  become  the  most  pernicious  enemies  of  our 
souls.      "  Who,"    says    Ecclesiasticus,    "  will    pity    an 
enchanter  struck  by  a  serpent,  or  any  that  come  near 
wild  beasts  ?     So  it  is  with  him  that  keepeth  company 
with  a  wicked  man."  (Eccl.  xii.  13.)     If  the  man  that 
makes  free  with  serpents,  or  with  ferocious  wild  beasts, 
be  bitten  or  devoured  by  them,  who  will  take  pity  on 
him  ?     And  so  it  is  with  him  who  associates  with  scan 
dalous   companions ;  if,   by   their   bad  example  he  be 
contaminated  and  lost,  neither  God  nor  man  will  have 
compassion  on  him  ;  because  he  was  cautioned  to  fly 
from  their  society. 

6.  One  scandalous  companion  is  enough  to  corrupt 
all  who  treat  him  as  a  friend.     "  Know  you  not,"  says 
St.  Paul,  "  that  a  little  leaven  corrupts  the  whole  lump  ?" 
(1  Cor.  v.  7.)     One  of  these  scandalous  sinners  is  able, 
by  a   perverse   maxim,    to   infect   all  his  companions. 
They  are  the  false  prophets  whom  Jesus  Christ  warns 


AVOIDING    BAD    COMPANY.  317 

us  to  avoid.  "Beware  of  false  prophets."  (Matt.  vii.  15  ) 
False  prophets  deceive,  not  only  by  false  predictions, 
but  also  by  false  maxims  or  doctrines,  which  are  pro- 
ductive  of  the  greatest  mischief.     For,  as  Seneca  says, 
they  leave  in  the  soul  certain  seeds  of  iniquity  which 
lead  to  evil.     "  Semina  in  animo  relinqueunt,  quse  in- 
ducunt  ad  malum."      It  is  too  true  that  scandalous  lan 
guage,    as   experience   proves,    corrupts   the   morals  of 
those  who  hear  it.     "Evil  communications,"  says  the 
Apostle,      corrupt  good  manners/'  (1  Cor  xv   63.)     A 
young  man  refuses,  through  the  fear  of  God,  to  commit 
a   certain   sin :  an   incarnate   devil,  a  bad  companion 
comes  and  says  to  him  what  the  serpent  said  to  Eve:' 
No ;  you  shall  not  die  the  death."  (Gen.  iii.  4.)     What 
are  you  afraid  of  ?     How  many  others  commit  this  sin  ? 
You  are  young;  God  will  have  pity  on  your  youth. 
They  will    as  is  written  in  the  book  of  Wisdom,  say  • 
Come,  therefore,  let  us  enjoy  the  good  things  that  are 
present—let  us  everywhere  leave  tokens  of  joy  (li  6  9) 
Come  with  us  ;  let  us  spend  our  time  in  amusement  and 
in  joy.     "  0  mmis  imqua  amicitia,"  says  St.  Augustine, 
cum  dicitur,   eamus,  facimus  :  pudet  non  esse  irnpul 
oentum        O  cruel  friendship  of  those  who  say  •  let  us 
go  and  do  etc.  :  it  is  a  shame  not  to  be  shameless.     Ho 
who  hears  such  language  is  ashamed  not  to  yield  to  it 
and  not  be  as  shameless  as  they  who  utter  it 

7.  When  any  passion  is  kindled  within  us,  we  must 

be  particularly  careful  in  selecting  the  persons  whom  we 

will  consult.     .For,  then  the  passion  itself  will  incline  us 

to  seek  counsel  from  those  who  will  probably  give  the 

advice  which  is  most  agreeable  to  the  passion.     But 

from  such  evil  counsellors,  who  do  not  speak  according 

to  God,  we  should  fly  with  greater  horror  than  from  an 

enemy;  for  their  evil  counsel,  along  with  the  passion 

which   is   excited,    may    precipitate    us    into    horrible 

excesses.     As  soon  as  the  passion  shall  subside  we  shall 

see  the  error  committed,  and  the  delusion  into  which  we 

have  been  led  by  false  friends.     But  the  good  advice  of 

a  friend,  who  speaks  according  to  Christian  truth  and 

meekness  preserves  us  from  every  disorder,  and  restores 

calm  to  the  soul. 

8.  "  Depart  from  the  unjust,"  says  the  Lord,  «  and 


318  SERMON   XL1I. 


evils  shall  depart  from  thee."  (Eccl.  vii.  2.)  Fly, 
separate  from  wicked  companions,  and  you  shall  cease 
to  commit  sin.  "  Neither  let  the  way  of  evil  men  please 
thee.  Flee  from  it:  pass  not  by  it:  go  aside  and  forsake 
it."  (Prov.  iv.  14,  15.)  Avoid  the  ways  in  which  these 
vicious  friends  walk,  that  you  may  not  even  meet  them. 
"  Forsake  not  an  old  friend  ;  for  the  new  will  not  be  like 
to  him."  (Eccl.  ix.  14.)  Do  not  leave  your  first  friend, 
who  loved  you  before  you  came  into  the  world.  "  I 
have  loved  thee  with  an  everlasting  love."  (Jer.  xxxi.  3.) 
Your  new  friends  do  not  love  you  ;  they  hate  you  more 
than  your  greatest  enemy  :  they  seek  not  your  welfare, 
as  God,  does,  but  their  own  pleasures,  and  the  satisfac 
tion  of  having  companions  of  their  wickedness  and 
perdition.  You  will,  perhaps,  say  :  I  feel  a  repugnance 
to  separate  from  such  a  friend,  who  has  been  solicitous 
for  my  welfare  ;  to  break  off  from  him  would  appear  to 
be  an  act  of  ingratitude.  What  welfare  ?  What 
ingratitude  ?  God  alone  wishes  your  welfare,  because 
he  desires  your  eternal  salvation.  Your  friend  wishes 
your  eternal  ruin  ;  he  wishes  you  to  follow  him,  but 
cares  not  if  you  be  damned.  It  is  not  ingratitude  to 
abandon  a  friend  who  leads  you  to  hell ;  but  it  is  ingra 
titude  to  forsake  God,  who  has  created  you,  who  has  died 
for  you  on  the  cross,  and  who  desires  your  salvation. 

9.  Fly  then  from  the  conversation  of  these  wicked 
friends.  "  Hedge  in  thy  ears  with  thorns,  hear  not  a 
wicked  tongue."  (Eccl.  xxviii.  28.)  Beware  of  listening 
to  the  language  of  such  friends  ;  their  words  may  bring 
you  to  perdition.  And  when  you  hear  them  speak 
improperly  arm  yourself  with  thorns,  and  reprove  them, 
not  only  for  the  purpose  of  rebuking,  but  also  of  con 
verting  them.  "  Ut  non  solum,"  says  St.  Augustine, 
"  repellantur  sed  etiam  compungantur."  Listen  to  a 
frightful  example,  and  learn  the  evil  which  a  wicked 
friend  does.  Father  Sabatino  relates  in  his  "Evangelical 
Light/'  that  two  friends  of  that  kind  were  one  day 
together.  One  of  them,  to  please  the  other,  committed 
a  sin ;  but  after  they  had  separated  he  died  suddenly. 
The  other,  who  knew  nothing  of  his  death,  saw,  in  his 
sleep,  his  friend,  and,  according  to  his  custom,  ran  to 
embrace  him.  But  the  deceased  appeared  to  be  sur- 


ALL   ENDS,    AND    SOON   ENDS.  319 

rounded  with,  fire,  and  began  to  blaspheme  the  other,  and 
to  upbraid  him  for  being  the  cause  of  his  damnation. 
The  other  awoke  and  changed  his  life.  But  his  unhappy 
friend  was  damned  ;  and  for  his  damnation  there  is  not, 
and  shall  not  be,  any  remedy  for  all  eternity. 


SERMON  XLIIL— FOURTEENTH  SUNDAY 
AFTER  PENTECOST. 

All  ends,  and  soon  ends. 

"  The  grass  of  the  field,  which  is  to-day,  and  to-morrow  is  cast  into 
the  oven." — MATT.  vii.  30. 

BEHOLD  !  all  the  goods  of  the  earth  are  like  the  grass  of 
the  field,  which  to-day  is  blooming  and  beautiful,  but  in 
the  evening  it  withers  and  loses  its  flowers,  and  the  next 
day  is  cast  into  the  fire.  This  is  what  God  commanded 
the  Prophet  Isaias  to  preach,  when  he  said  to  him : 
"  Cry.  And  I  said  :  What  shall  I  cry  ?  All  flesh  is 
grass,  and  all  the  glory  thereof  as  the  flower  of  the  field." 
(Isa.  xl.  6.)  Hence  St.  James  compares  the  rich  of  this 
world  to  the  flower  of  grass  :  at  the  end  of  their  journey 
through  life  they  rot,  along  with  all  their  riches  and 
pomps.  "  The  rich.  . .  .because  as  the  flower  of  the 
grass  shall  he  pass  away.  For  the  sun  rose  with  a 
burning  heat,  and  parched  the  grass,  and  the  flower 
thereof  fell  off,  and  the  beauty  of  the  shape  thereof 
perished  :  so  also  shall  the  rich  man  fade  away  in  his 
ways."  (St.  James  i.  10,  11.)  They  fade  away  and  are 
cast  into  the  fire,  like  the  rich  glutton,  who  made  a 
splendid  appearance  in  this  life,  but  afterwards  "  was 
buried  in  hell."  (Luke  xvi.  22.)  Let  us,  then,  dearly 
beloved  Christians,  attend  to  the  salvation  of  our  souls, 
and  to  the  acquisition  of  riches  for  eternity,  which 
never  ends  ;  for  everything  in  this  world  ends,  and  ends 
very  soon. 

First  Point.     Everything  ends. 

1.  When  one  of  the  great  of  this  world  is  in  the  full 


320  SERMON    XLIII. 


enjoyment  of  the  riches  and  honours  which  he  has 
acquired,  death  shall  come,  and  he  shall  he  told:  "Take 
order  with  thy  house  ;  for  thou  shalt  die,  and  not  live." 
(Isa.  xxxviii.  1.)  Oh!  what  doleful  tidings!  The  un 
happy  man  must  then  say:  Farewell,  0  world!  farewell, 
O  villa !  farewell,  0  grotto !  farewell,  relatives !  fare 
well,  friends  !  farewell,  sports  !  farewell,  balls  !  farewell, 
comedies  !  farewell,  banquets  !  farewell,  honours  !  all  is 
over  for  me.  There  is  no  remedy  :  whether  he  will  or 
not,  he  must  leave  all.  "  For  when  he  shall  die,  he 
shall  take  nothing  away ;  nor  shall  his  glory  descend 
with  him."  (Ps.  xlviii.  18.)  St.  Bernard  says,  that 
death  produces  a  horrible  separation  of  the  soul  from  the 
body,  and  from  all  the  things  of  this  earth.  ^  "  Opus 
mortis  horrendum  divortium."  (Serm.  xxvi.,  in  Cant.) 
To  the  great  of  this  world,  whom  worldlings  regard  as 
the  most  fortunate  of  mortals,  the  bare  name  of  death  is 
so  full  of  bitterness,  that  they  are  unwilling  even  to  hear 
it  mentioned  ;  for  their  entire  concern  is  to  find  peace  in 
their  earthly  goods.  "  O  death !"  says  Ecclesiasticus, 
"  how  bitter  is  the  remembrance  of  thee  to  a  man  that 
hath  peace  in  his  possessions/'  (Eccl.  xli.  1.)  But  how 
much  greater  bitterness  shall  death  itself  cause  when 
it  actually  comes — miserable  the  man  who  is  attached  to 
the  goods  of  this  world  !  Every  separation  produces 
pain.  Hence,  when  the  soul  shall  be  separated  by  the 
stroke  of  death  from  the  goods  on  which  she  had  fixed 
all  her  affections,  the  pain  must  be  excruciating.  It 
was  this  that  made  king  Agag  exclaim,  when  the 
news  of  approaching  death  was  announced  to  him  : 
"Doth  bitter  death  separate  me  in  this  manner?"  (I 
Kings  xv.  32.)  The  great  misfortune  of  worldlings  is, 
that  when  they  are  on  the  point  of  being  summoned  to 
judgment,  instead  of  endeavouring  to  adjust  the 
accounts  of  their  souls,  they  direct  all  their  attention  to 
earthly  things.  But,  says  St.  John  Chrysostom,  the 
punishment  which  awaits  sinners,  on  account  of  having 
forgotten  God  during  life,  is  that  they  forget  themselves 
at  the  hour  of  death.  "  Hac  animadversione  percutitur 
impius,  ut  moriens  obliviscatur  sui,  qui  vivens  oblitus 
est  Dei." 

2.  But  how  great  soever  a  man's  attachment  to  the 


ALL   ENDS,    AND   SOON   ENDS.  321 

things  of  this  world  may  be,  he  must  take  leave  of  them 
at  death.     Naked  he  has  entered  into  this  world,  and 
naked  he  shall  depart  from  it.     "  Naked,"  says  Job,  "  I 
came  out  of  my  mother's  womb,   and  naked  shall  I 
return  thither."  (Job  i.  21.)     In  a  word,  they  who  have 
spent  their  whole  life,  have  lost  their  sleep,  their  health, 
and  their  soul,  in  accumulating  riches  and  possessions' 
shall  take  nothing  with  them  at  the  hour  of  death  :  their 
eyes  shall  then  be  opened  ;  and  of  all  they  had  so  dearly 
acquired,  they  shall  find  nothing  in  their  hands.     Hence, 
on  that  night  of  confusion,  they  shall  be  overwhelmed 
in  a  tempest  of  pains  and  sadness.     "  The  rich  man, 
when  he  shall  sleep,  shall  take  away  nothing  with  him! 
He  shall  open  his  eyes  and  find  nothing... a  tempest 
shall  oppress  him  in  the  night."  (Job  xxvii.  19,  20.) 
St.  Antonine  relates  that  Saladin,  king  of  the  Saracens, 
gave  orders  at   the  hour  of  death,   that  the  winding 
sheet  in  which  he  was  to  bo  buried  should  be  carried 
before  him  to  the  grave,  and  that  a  person  should  cry 
out :  "  Of  all  his  possessions,  this  only  shall  Saladin 
bring  with  him."     The  saint  also  relates  that  a  certain 
philosopher,  speaking  of  Alexander  the  Great  after  his 
death,   said:    Behold   the   man   that   made  the  earth 
tremble.     "  The  earth,"  as  the  Scripture  says,  "was 
quiet  before  him."  (1  Mach.  i.  3.)     He  is  now  under 
the  earth.     Behold  the  man  whom  the  dominion  of  the 
whole   world   could   not   satisfy :    now   four   palms   of 
ground  are  sufficient  for  him.     "  Qui  terram  heri  con- 
culcubat,  hodie  ab  ea   conculcatur ;    et   cui   heri   non 
sufficiebat  mundus  hodie  sufficiunt  quatuor  ulna?  terra)." 
St.  Augustine,  or  some  other  ancient  writer,  says,  that 
having  gone  to  see  the  tomb  of  Caesar,  he  exclaimed : 
"  Princes  feared  thee  ;    cities    worshipped   thee  ;    all 
trembled    before    thee  ; — where    is    thy  magnificence 
gone  ?"  (Serm.  xxxviii.  ad  Fratr.)  Listen  to  what  David 
says :  "  I  have  seen  the  wicked  highly  exalted  and  lifted 
up  like  the  cedars  of  Libanus.     And  I  passed  by,  and 
lo  !  he  was  not."  (Ps.  xxxvi.  35,  36.)     Oh  !  how  many 
such  spectacles  are  seen  every  day  in  the  world !     A 
sinner  who  had  been  born  in  lowliness  and  poverty, 
afterwards  acquires  wealth  and  honours,  so  as  to  excite 
the  envy  of  all.     When  he  dies,  every  one  says :  He 

x 


322  SERMON    XLIII. 


made  a  fortune  in  the  world ;  but  now  he  is  dead,  and 
with  death  all  is  over  for  him. 

3.  "  Why  is  earth  and  ashes  proud  ?"  (Eccl.  x.  9.) 
Such  the  language  which  the  Lord  addresses  to  the  man 
who  is  puffed  up  by  earthly  honours  and  earthly  riches. 
Miserable  creature,  he  says,  whence  comes  such  pride  ? 
If  you  enjoy  honours  and  riches,  remember  that  you  are 
dust.     "  For  dust  thou  art,  and  into  dust  thou  shalt 
return."  (Gen.  iii.  19.)     You  must  die,  and  after  death 
what  advantage  shall  you  derive  from  the  honours  and 
possessions  which  now  inflate  you  with  pride  ?   Go,  says 
St.  Ambrose,  to  a  cemetery,  in  which  are  buried  the 
rich  and  poor,  and  see  if  you  can  discern  among  them  who 
has  been  rich  and  who  has  been  poor ;  all  are  naked, 
and  nothing  remains  of  the  richest  among  them  but  a 
few  withered  bones.     "  Respice  sepulchra,  die  mihi,  quis 
ibi  dives,   quis  pauper  sit "  (lib.  vi.  exam.,  cap.  viii). 
How  profitable  would  the  remembrance  of  death  be  to 
the  man  who  lives  in  the  world  !     "  He  shall  be  brought 
to  the  grave,  and  shall  watch  in  the  heap  of  the  dead." 
(Job  xxi.  32.)     At  the  sight  of  these  dead  bodies  he 
would  remember  death,  and  that  he  shall  one  day  be 
like  them.     Thus,  he  should  be  awakened  from   the 
deadly  sleep  in  which  perhaps  he  lives  in  a  state  of  per 
dition.     But  the  misfortune  is,  that  worldlings  are  un 
willing  to  think  of  death  until  the  hour  comes  when  they 
must  depart  from  this  earth  to  go  into  eternity  ;  and 
therefore  they  live  as  attached  to  the  world,  as  if  they 
were  never  to  be  separated  from  it.    13ut  our  life  is  short, 
and  shall  soon  end :  thus  all  things  must  end,  and  must 
soon  end. 

Second  Point.     All  soon  ends. 

4.  Men  know  well,  and  believe  firmly,  that  they  shall 
die  ;  but  they  imagine  death  is  far  off  as  if  it  were  never 
to  arrive.     13ut  Job  tells  us  that  the  life  of  man  is  short. 
"  Man  born  of  a  woman,  living  for  a  short  time,  is  filled 
with  many  miseries.     Who  cometh  forth  like  a  flower 
and  is  destroyed."  (Job  xiv.  2.)     At  present  the  health 
of   men  is  so  much    impaired,   that,   as  we  see  by 
experience,  the  greater  number  of  them  die  before  they 
attain  the  age  of  seventy.     And  what,  says  St.  James, 


ALL   ENDS,    AND   SOON    ENDS.  323 

is  our  life  but  a  vapour,  which  a  blast  of  wind,  a  fever, 
a  stroke  of  apoplexy,  a  puncture,  an  attack  of  the  chest, 
causes  to  disappear,  and  which  is  seen  no  more  ?  "  For 
what  is  your  life  ?  It  is  a  vapour  which  appeareth  for 
a  little  while."  (St.  James  iv.  15.)  "  We  all  die,"  said 
the  woman  of  Thecua  to  David,  "  and  like  waters  that 
return  no  more,  we  fall  down  into  the  earth."  (2  Kings 
xiv.  14.)  She  spoke  the  truth ;— as  all  rivers  and 
streams  run  to  the  sea,  and  as  the  gliding  waters  return 
no  more,  so  our  days  pass  away,  and  we  approach  to 
death. 

5.  They  pass ;  they  pass  quickly.     "  My  days/'  says 
Job,  "have  been  swifter  than  a  post."  (Job  ix.  25.) 
Death  comes  to  meet  us,  and  runs  more  swiftly  than  a 
post ;  so  that  every  step  we  make,  every  breath  we  draw, 
we  approach  to  death.     St.  Jerome  felt  that  even  while 
he  was  writing  he  was  drawing  nearer  to  death.     Hence 
he  said:  "  What  I  write  is  taken  away  from  my  life." 
"  Quad  scribo  de  mea  vita  tollitur."     Let  us,  then,  say 
with  Job :  Years  passed  by,  and  with  them  pleasures, 
honours,  pomps,  and  all  things  in  this  world  pass  away, 
"  and  only  the  grave  remaineth  for  me."  (Job  xviii.  1.) 
In  a  word,  all  the  glory  of  the  labours  we  have  undergone 
in  this  world,  in  order  to  acquire  a  large  income,  a  high 
character  for  valour,  for  learning  and  genius,  shall  end 
in  our  being  thrown  into  a  pit  to  become  the  food  of 
worms.      The  miserable   worldling   then   shall   say  at 
death  :  My  house,  my  garden,  my  fashionable  furniture, 
my  pictures  and  rich  apparel,  shall,  in  a  short  time, 
belong  no  more  to  me ;  "  and  only  the  grave  remaineth 
for  me." 

6.  But  how  much  soever  the  worldling  may  be  dis 
tracted  by  his  worldly  affairs  and  by  his  pleasures- 
how  much  soever  he  may  be  entangled  in  them,  St. 
Chrysostom  says,  that  when  the  fear  of  death,  which 
sets  fire  to  all  things  of  the  present  life,  begins  to  enter 
the  soul,  it  will  compel  him  to  think  and  to  be  solicitous 
about  his  lot  after  death.  "Cum  pulsare  animam 
incipit  metus  mortis  (ignis  instar  prasentis  vita3  omnia 
succendens)  philosophari  earn  cogit,  et  futura  solicita 
mente  versari."  (Serm.  in  2  Tim.)  Alas!  at  the  hour 
of  death  "the  eyes  of  the  blind  shall  be  opened."  (Is* 


324  SERMON    XLIII. 


xxxv.  5.)  Then  indeed  shall  he  opened  the  eyes  of 
those  hlind  worldlings  who  have  employed  their  whole 
life  in  acquiring  earthly  goods,  and  have  paid  hut  little 
attention  to  the  interests  of  the  soul.  In  all  these  shall 
he  verified  what  Jesus  Christ  has  told  them — that  death 
shall  come  when  they  least  expect  it.  "  At  what  hour 
you  think  not  the  Son  of  Man  will  come."  (Luke  xii. 
40.)  Thus,  on  these  unhappy  men  death  comes  unex 
pectedly.  Hence,  because  the  lovers  of  the  world  are 
not  usually  warned  of  their  approaching  dissolution  till 
it  is  very  near,  they  must,  in  the  last  lew  days  of  life, 
adjust  the  accounts  of  their  soul  for  the  fifty  or  sixty 
years  which  they  lived  on  this  earth.  They  will  then 
desire  another  month,  or  another  week,  to  settle  their 
accounts  or  to  tranquillize  their  conscience.  But  "  they 
will  seek  for  peace,  and  there  shall  he  none."  (Ezec.  vii. 
25.)  The  time  which  they  desire  is  refused.  The  assis 
tant  priest  reads  the  divine  command  to  depart  instantly 
from  this  world.  "  Proficiscere,  anima  Christian!  de  hoc 
mundo/'  "  Depart,  Christian  soul,  from  this  world." 
Oh !  how  dangerous  the  entrance  of  worldlings  into  eter 
nity,  dying,  as  they  do,  amid  so  much  darkness  and  con 
fusion,  in  consequence  of  the  disorderly  state  of  the 
accounts  of  their  souls. 

7.  "  Weight  and  balance  are  the  judgments  of  the 
Lord."  (Piov.  xvi.  11.)  At  the  tribunal  of  God,  nobility, 
dignities,  and  riches  have  no  weight ;  two  things  only— 
our  bins,  and  the  graces  bestowed  on  us  by  God — make 
the  scales  ascend  or  descend.  They  who  shall  be  found 
faithful  in  corresponding  with  the  lights  and  calls 
which  they  have  received,  shall  be  rewarded  ;  and  they 
who  shall  be  found  unfaithful,  shall  be  condemned. 
We  do  not  keep  an  account  of  God's  graces ;  but  the 
Lord  keeps  an  account  of  them ;  he  measures  them ; 
and  when  he  sees  them  despised  to  a  certain  degree,  he 
leaves  the  soul  in  her  sins,  and  takes  her  out  of  life  in 
that  miserable  state.  "  For  what  things  a  man  shall 
sow  those  also  shall  he  reap."  (Gal.  vi.  8.)  From 
labours  undertaken  for  the  attainment  of  posts  of 
honour  and  emolument,  for  the  acquisition  of  property 
and  of  worldly  applause,  we  reap  nothing  at  the  hour 
of  death :  all  are  then  lost.  We  gather  fruits  of  eternal 


ALL    ENDS,    AND    SOON    ENDS.  325 

life  only  from  works  performed,  and  tribulations  suffered 
for  God. 

8.  Hence,  St.  Paul  exhorts  us  to  attend  to  our  own 
business.      "But  we  must  entreat  you,  brethren.... 
that  you  do  your  own  business."  (1  Thess.  iv.  10,  11.) 
Of  what  business,  I  ask,  does  the  Apostle  speak  ?     Is  it 
of  acquiring  riches,  or  a  great   name  in    the  world? 
No  ;    he  speaks  of  the  business  of  the  soul,  of  which 
Jesus  Christ  spoke,  when  he  said:  "Trade  till  I  come." 
(Luke  xix.  13.)     The  business  for  which  the  Lord  has 
placed,  and  for  which  he  keeps  us  on  this  earth,  is  to 
save  our  souls,  and  by  good  works  to  gain  eternal  life. 
This  is  the  end  for  which  we  have  been  created.     "  And 
the  end  eternal  life."  (Rom.  vi.  22.)     The  business  of 
the  soul  is  for  us  not  only  the  most  important,  but  also 
the  principal  and  only  affair;  for,  if  the  soul  be  saved, 
all  is  safe  ;  but  if  the  soul  be  lost,  all  is  lost.     Hence,  we 
ought,  as  the  Scripture  says,  to  strive  for  the  salvation  of 
our  souls,  and  to  combat  to  death  for  justice— that  is,  for 
the   observance  of  the  divine  law.     "  Strive  for  justice 
for  thy  soul,  and  even  unto  death  fight  for  justice." 
(Eccl.  iv.  33.)     The  business  which  our  Saviour  recom 
mends  to  us,  saying:  Trade  till  I  come,  is,  to  have  always 
before  our  eyes  the  day  on  which  he  shall  come  to  de 
mand  an  account  of  our  whole  life. 

9.  All  things  in  this  world— acquisitions,  applause, 
grandeur— must,  as  we  have  said,  all  end,  and  end  very 
soon.     "  The  fashion  of  this  world  passeth  away."  (1 
Cor.   vii.   31.)      The   scene  of  this  life  passes  away; 
happy  they  who,  in  this  scene,  act  their  part  well,  and 
save  their  souls,  preferring  the  eternal  interests  of  tie 
soul  to  all  the  temporal  interests  of  the  body.     "  He 
that  hateth  his  life  in  this  world,  keepeth  it  unto  life 
eternal."  (John  xii.  26.)     Worldlings  say :  Happy  the 
man  who  hoards  up  money !  happy  they  who  acquire 
the  esteem  of  the  world,  and  enjoy  the  pleasures  of  this 
life!     0  folly!     Happy  he  who"  loves  God  and  saves 
his^soul  !     The  salvation  of  his  soul  was  the  only  favour 
which  king  David  asked  of  God.     "  One  thing  have  I 
asked  of  the  Lord,  this  will  I  seek  after."  (Ps.  xxvi.  4.) 
And  St.  Paul  said,  that  to  acquire  the  grace  of  Jesus 
Christ  which  contains  eternal  life,  he  despised  as  dung 


326 


SERMON   XLIII. 


all  worldly  goods.  "  I  count  all  things  as  loss — and  I 
count  them  as  dung,  that  I  may  gain  Christ."  (Phil, 
iii.  8.) 

1 0.  But  certain  fathers  of  families  will  say  :  I  do  not 
labour  so  much  for  myself  as  for  my  children,  whom  I 
wish  to  leave  in  comfortable  circumstances.  But  I 
answer :  If  you  dissipate  the  goods  which  you  possess, 
and  leave  your  children  in  poverty,  you  do  wrong,  and 
are  guilty  of  sin.  ^  But  will  you  lose  your  soul  in  order 
to  leave  your  children  comfortable  ?  If  you  fall  into 
hell,  perhaps  they  will  come  and  release  you  from  it  ? 
0  folly !  Listen  to  what  David  said :  "  I  have  not 
seen  the  just  man  forsaken,  nor  his  seed  seeking  bread." 
(Ps.  xxxvi.  25.)  Attend  to  the  service  of  God;  act 
according  to  justice  ;  the  Lord  will  provide  for  the 
wants  of  your  children  ;  and  you  shall  save  your  souls, 
and  shall  lay  up  that  eternal  treasure  of  happiness 
which  can  never  be  taken  from  you — a  treasure  not  like 
earthly  possessions,  of  which  you  may  be  deprived  by 
robbers,  and  which  you  shall  certainly  lose  at  death. 
This  is  the  advice  which  the  Lord  gives  you :  "  But 
lay  up  to  yourselves  treasures  in  heaven,  where  neither 
the  rust  nor  the  moth  doth  consume,  and  where  thieves 
do  not ^ break  through  nor  steal."  (Matt.  vi.  20.)  In 
conclusion,  attend  to  the  beautiful  admonition  which 
St.  Gregory  gives  to  all  who  wish  to  live  well  and  to 
gain  eternal  life.  "  Sit  nobis  in  intentione  aeternitas,  in 
usu  temporalitas."  Let  the  end  of  all  our  actions  in 
this  life  be,  the  acquisition  of  eternal  goods  ;  and  let  us 
use  temporal  things  only  to  preserve  life  for  the  little 
time  we  have  to  remain  on  this  earth.  The  saint  con 
tinues  :  "  Sicut  nulla  est  proportio  inter  aeternitatem  et 
nostiac  vitae  tempus,  ita  nulla  debet  esse  proportio  inter 
acternitatis,  et  hujus,  vitae  curas."  As  there  is  an  in 
finite  distance  between  eternity  and  the  time  of  our 
life,  so  there  ought  to  be,  according  to  our  mode  of 
understanding,  an  infinite  distance  between  the  attention 
which  we  should  pay  to  the  goods  of  eternity,  which 
shall  be  enjoyed  for  ever,  and  the  care  we  take  of  the 
goods  of  this  life,  which  death  shall  soon  take  away 
from  us. 


DEATH  OF  MEN  OF  THE  WORLD.         327 


SERMON  XLIY.— FIFTEENTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  the  practical  death,  or  on  what  ordinarily  happens 
at  the  death  of  men  of  the  world. 

"  Behold,  a  dead  man  was  carried  out,  the  only  son  of  his  mother."— 
LUKE  vii.  12. 

IT  is  related  in  this  day's  gospel  that,  going  to  the  city 
of  Nairn,  Jesus  Christ  met  a  dead  man,  the  only  son  of 
his  mother,  who  was  carried  out  to  be  buried.  "  Behold, 
a  dead  man  was  carried  out."  Before  we  proceed 
further,  let  us  stop  at  these  words  and  remember  death. 
The  holy  Church  directs  her  ministers  to  say  to  Chris 
tians  every  year,  on  Ash  Wednesday  :  "  Memento  homo 
quia  pulvis  es,  et  in  pulverum  reverteris."  Remember 
man,  thou  art  but  dust,  and  into  dust  thou  shalt  return. 
Oh  !  would  to  God  that  men  had  death  always  before 
their  eyes  ;  if  they  had,  they  certainly  should  not  lead 
such  bad  lives.  Now,  beloved  brethren,  that  the  remem 
brance  of  death  may  be  impressed  upon  you,  I  will  this 
day  place  before  your  eyes  the  practical  death,  or  a 
description  of  what  ordinarily  happens  at  the  death  of 
men  of  the  world,  and  of  all  the  circumstances  attend 
ing  it.  Hence  we  shall  consider,  in  the  first  point, 
what  happens  at  the  time  of  the  last  illness :  in  the 
second  point,  what  happens  when  the  last  sacraments 
are  received;  and,  in  the  third,  what  happens  at  the 
time  of  death. 

First  Point.  What  happens  at  the  time  of  the  last 
illness. 

1.  I  do  not  intend  in  this  discourse  to  speak  of  a  sin 
ner  who  had  always  lived  in  habitual  sin ;  but  of  a  world 
ling,  who  is  careless  about  his  salvation,  and  always 
entangled  in  the  affairs  of  the  world,  in  contracts,  enmities, 
courtships,  and  gaming.  He  has  frequently  fallen  into 
mortal  sins,  and  after  a  considerable  time  has  confessed 
them.  In  a  word,  he  has  been  a  relapsing  sinner,  and 


328  SKHMON    XL1V. 


has  generally  lived  in  enmity  with  God,  or,  at  least,  has 
been  generally  perplexed  with  grievous  doubts  of  con 
science.  Let  us  consider  the  death  of  such  persons,  and 
what  ordinarily  happens  at  their  death. 

2.  Let  us  commence  at  the  time  at  which  his  last 
illness  appears.     He  rises  in  the  morning,  he  goes  out 
to   look    after   his   temporal  affairs ;    but  while  he   is 
engaged  in  business,   he  is  assailed  by  a  violent  pain 
in  the  head,  his  legs  totter,  he  feels  a  cold  shivering, 
which  runs  through  every  member,  a  sickness  of  the 
stomach,  and  great  debility  over  the  whole  body.     He 
immediately  returns  home   and  throws  himself  on  the 
bed.     His  relatives,  his  wife  and  sisters,  run  to  him, 
and  say :  "  Why  have  yon  retired  so  early  ?  Are  you  un 
well  ?"     He  answers  :  "  I  feel  sick.     I  am  scarcely  able 
to  stand  ;  I  have  a  great  head-ache."     "  Perhaps/'  they 
say,  "  you  have  got  a  fever."    "  It  must  be  so,"  he  replies, 
"send  for  a  physician.''     The  physician  is  immediately 
sent  for.     In  the  meantime  the  sick  man  is  put  to  bed, 
and  there  he  is  seized  with  a  cold  fit,  which  makes  him 
shiver  from  head  to  foot.     He  is  loaded  with  covering, 
but  the  cold  continues  for  an  hour  or  two,  and  is  suc 
ceeded  by  a  burning  heat.     The  physician  arrives,  asks 
the  sick  man  how  he  feels  ;  he  examines  the  pulse,  and 
find  he  has  a  severe  attack  of  fever.     But,  not  to  alarm 
him,  the  physician  says :    You  have  fever  :    but  it  is 
trifling.     Have  you  given  any  occasion  to  it  ?     The  sick 
man  replies  :  I  went  out  by  night  a  few  days  ago,  and 
caught  cold  ;  or,  I   dined  with  a  friend,  and  indulged 
my  appetite  to  excess.     It  is  worth  nothing,  the  physi 
cian   says  :  it  is  a  fulness  of  stomach,  or  more  probably 
one  of  these  attacks  which  occur  at  the  change  of  season. 
Eat  nothing  to-day  :  take  a  cup  of  tea ;  be  not  uneasy ; 
be  cheerful ;    there  is  no  danger.     I  will  see  you  to 
morrow.     Oh !  that  there  was  an  angel,  who,  on  the 
part  of  God,  would  say  to  the  physician  :    What  do  you 
say  ?     Do  you  tell  me  that  there  is  no  danger  in  this 
disease  ?     Ah  !  the  trumpet  of  the  divine  justice  has,  by 
the  first  symptoms  of  his  illness,  given  the  signal  of  the 
death  of  this  man  :  for  him  the  time  of  God's  vengeance 
has  already  arrived. 

3.  The  night  comes,  and  the  poor  invalid  gets  no 


DEATH  OF  MEN  OF  THE  WORLD.         329 

rest.  The  difficulty  of  breathing  and  headache  increase. 
The  night  appears  to  him  a  thousand  years.  The  light 
scarcely  dawns  when  he  calls  for  some  of  the  family. 
His  relatives  come,  and  say  to  him :  Have  you  rested 
well  ?  Ah !  I  have  not  been  able  to  close  my  eyes 
during  the  entire  night.  O  God !  how  much  do  I  feel 
oppressed  !  Oh !  how  violent  are  the  spasms  in  my 
head!  I  feel  my  temples  pierced  by  two  nails.  Send 
immediately  for  the  physician  ;  tell  him  to  come  as  soon 
as  possible.  The  physician  comes,  and  finds  the  fever 
increased  ;  but  still  he  continues  to  say:  "  Have  courage ; 
there  is  no  danger.  The  disease  must  take  its  course. 
The  fever  which  accompanies  it  will  make  it  disappear." 
He  comes  the  third  day,  and  finds  the  sick  man  worse. 
He  comes  on  the  fourth  day,  and  symptoms  of  malignant 
fever  appear.  The  taste  on  the  mouth  is  disagreeable  ; 
the  tongue  is  black  ;  every  part  of  the  body  is  restless  ; 
and  delirium  has  commenced.  The  physician,  finding 
that  the  fever  is  acute,  prescribes  purging,  bloodletting, 
and  iced  water.  He  says  to  the  relatives  :  Ah  !  the 
sickness  is  most  severe  ;  I  do  not  wish  to  be  alone.  Let 
other  physicians  be  called  in,  that  we  may  have  a 
consultation.  This  he  says  in  secret  to  the  relatives, 
but  not  to  the  sick  man — on  the  contrary,  not  to 
frighten  him,  he  continues  to  say  :  "  Be  cheerful ;  there 
is  no  danger." 

4.  Thus,  they  speak  of  remedies,  of  more  physicians, 
and  of  a  consultation  ;  but  not  a  word  about  confession 
or  the  last  sacraments.  I  know  not  how  such  physicians 
can  be  saved.  Where  the  Bull  of  Pope  Pius  the  Fifth 
is  in  force,  they  expressly  swear,  when  they  receive  the 
diploma,  that,  after  the  third  day  of  his  illness,  they 
will  pay^no  more  visits  to  any  sick  man  until  he  has 
made  his  confession.  But  some  physicians  do  not 
observe  this  oath,  and  thus  so  many  poor  souls  are 
damned.  For,  when  a  sick  man  has  lost  his  reason,  of 
what  use  is  confession  to  him  ?  He  is  lost.  Brethren, 
when  you  fall  sick,  do  not  wait  till  the  physician  tells 
you  to  send  for  a  confessor ;  send  for  him  of  your  own 
accord ;  for  physicians,  through  fear  of  displeasing  a 
patient,  do  not  warn  him  of  his  danger  until  they 
despair,  or  nearly  despair  of  his  recovery.  Thus, 


330 


SERMON    XL1V. 


brethren,  send  first  for  your  confessor — call  first  for  the 
physician  of  the  soul,  and  afterwards  for  the  physician 
of  the  body.  Your  soul  is  at  stake,  eternity  is  at  stake  ; 
if  you  err  then  you  have  erred  for  ever ;  your  mistake 
shall  be  for  ever  irreparable. 

5.  The  physician,  then,  conceals  from  the  sick  man 
his  danger ;  his  relatives  do  what  is  still  worse — they 
deceive  him  by  lies.     They  tell  him  that  he  is  better, 
and  that  the  physicians  give  strong  hopes  of  his  re 
covery.     0  treacherous  relatives!     0  barbarous  rela 
tives,  who  are  the  worst  of  enemies  !     Instead  of  warning 
the  sick  man  of  his  danger  (as  is  their  duty,  particularly 
if  they  are  parents,  children,  or  brothers),  that  he  may 
settle  the  accounts  of  his  soul,  they  flatter  him,  they 
deceive  him,  and  cause  him  to  die  in  the  state  of  damna 
tion.     But,  from  the  pains,  oppression,  and  restlessness 
which  he  feels,  from  the  studied  silence  of  friends  who 
visit  him,  and  from  the  tears  which  he  sees  in  the  eyes 
of  his   relatives,   the   poor   invalid   perceives  that  his 
disease  is  mortal.     Alas !  he  says,  the  hour  of  death  is 
come  ;  but,  through  fear  of  giving  me  annoyance,  they 
do  not  warn  me  of  it. 

6.  No ;  his  relatives  do  not  let  him  know  that  he  is 
in  danger  of  death ;  but  because  they  attend  to  their 
own  interest,  about  which  they  are  more  solicitous  than 
they  are  about  anything  else,  they  bring  in  a  scrivener, 
in  the  hope  that  the  dying  man  will  leave  them  a  large 
portion  of  his  property.     The  scrivener  arrives.     Who 
is  this  ?  asks  the  sick  man.     The  relatives  answer :  He 
is  a  scrivener.     Perhaps,  for  your  own  satisfaction,  you 
would  like  to  make  your  will.     Then  is  my  sickness 
mortal  ?     Ami  near  my  end  ?      JSTo,  father,  or  brother, 
they  say  :  we  know  that  there  is  no  necessity  for  making 
a  will ;  but  you  must  one  day  make  it,  and  it  would  be 
better  to  do  it  now,  while  you  have  the  full  use  of  all 
your  faculties.     Very  well,  he  replies ;  since  the  scrivener 
is  come,  and  since  you  wish  me  to  do  it,  I  will  make 
my  last  will.     The  scrivener  first  asks  the  sick  man 
in   what   church   he   wishes  to  be  buried,  in  case  he 
should   die.      Oh !    what   a   painful   question !      After 
choosing  the  place  of  his  interment,  he  begins  to  dis 
pose  of  all  his  goods.     I  bequeath  such  an  estate  or 


DEATH  OF  MEN  OF  THE  WORLD.         331 

farm  to  my  children  ;  such  a  house  to  my  brother  ;  such 
a  sum  of  money  to  a  friend  ;  and  such  an  article  of  furni 
ture  to  an  acquaintance.  0  miserable  man,  what  have 
you  done  ?  You  have  submitted  to  so  much  fatigue, 
you  have  burthened  your  conscience  with  so  many  sins, 
in  order  to  acquire  these  goods  ;  and  now  you  leave  them 
for  ever,  and  bequeath  them  to  such  and  such  persons. 
But  there  is  no  remedy ;  when  death  comes  we  must 
leave  all  things.  This  separation  from  all  worldly 
possessions  is  very  painful  to  the  sick  man,  whose  heart 
was  attached  to  his  property,  his  house,  his  garden,  his 
money,  and  his  amusements.  Death  comes,  gives  the 
stroke,  and  separates  the  heart  from  all  the  objects  of  its 
love.  This  stroke  tortures  the  sick  man  with  excruciat 
ing  pain.  Ah,  brethren  !  let  us  detach  our  hearts  from 
the  things  of  this  world  before  death  separates  us  from 
them  with  so  much  pain,  and  with  such  great  danger  to 
our  salvation. 

Second  Point.  "What  happens  at  the  time  in  which 
the  sacraments  are  received. 

7.  Behold  !  the  dying  man  has  made  his  will.  After 
the  eighth  or  tenth  day  of  his  illness,  seeing  that  he  is 
daily  growing  worse,  and  that  he  is  near  his  end,  one  of 
his  relatives  asks :  "  When  shall  we  send  for  his  confessor? 
He  has  been  a  man  of  the  world.  We  know  that  he  has 
not  been  a  saint."  They  all  agree  that  the  confessor 
should  be  sent  for  ;  but  all  refuse  to  speak  to  the  sick 
man  on  the  subject.  Hence  they  send  for  the  parish 
priest,  or  for  some  other  confessor,  to  make  known  to 
the  dying  man  his  danger,  and  the  necessity  of  receiving 
the  last  sacraments.  But  this  is  done  only  when  he 
has  nearly  lost  the  use  of  his  faculties.  The  confessor 
comes ;  he  inquires  from  the  family  about  the  state  of 
the  sick  man,  and  the  sort  of  life  which  he  led.  He 
finds  that  he  has  been  careless  about  the  duties  of  reli 
gion,  and,  from  the  circumstances  which  he  hears,  he 
trembles  for  the  salvation  of  the  poor  soul.  Under 
standing  that  the  dying  man  has  but  a  short  time  to 
live,  the  confessor,  first  of  all,  orders  the  relatives  to 
leave  the  room,  and  to  return  to  it  no  more.  He  then 
approaches  and  salutes  the  sick  man.  The  latter  asks  : 


332 


SERMON    XLIV. 


"Who  are  you  ?  I  am,  replies  the  confessor,  the  parish 
priest,  Father  Such-a-one.  Do  you  wish  me  to  do  any 
thing  for  you  ?  Having  heard  that  you  had  a  severe 
attack  of  illness,  I  have  come  to  reconcile  you  with  your 
Creator.  Father,  I  am  obliged  to  you ;  but  I  beg  of 
you  for  the  present  to  let  me  take  a  little  rest ;  for  I 
have  got  no  sleep  for  several  nights,  and  I  am  scarcely 
able  to  speak.  Recommend  me  to  God. 

8.  Knowing  the  dangerous  state  of  the  soul  and 
body  of  the  sick  man,  the  confessor  says  :  We  hope 
that  the  Lord  and  the  most  holy  Virgin  will  deliver 
you  from  this  illness  ;  but,  sooner  or  later,  you  must 
die.  Your  illness  is  very  severe.  You  would  do  well 
to  make  your  confession,  and  to  adjust  the  affairs  of 
your  soul.  Perhaps  you  have  scruples  of  conscience. 
I  have  come  on  purpose  to  calm  the  troubles  of  your 
mind.  Father,  I  should  have  to  make  a  long  confes 
sion  ;  for  my  conscience  is  perplexed  and  burdened 
with  sin.  At  present  I  am  not  able  to  do  it.  I  feel  a 
lightness  in  my  head,  and  I  can  scarcely  breathe. 
Father,  we  will  see  about  it  to-morrow,  at  present  I  am 
not  able.  But  who  knows  what  may  happen  ?  Some 
attack  may  come  on,  which  will  not  leave  you  time  to 
make  your  confession.  Father,  do  not  torment  me  any 
longer.  I  have  said  that  I  am  not  able  ;  it  is  impossible 
for  me  to  do  it.  But  the  confessor,  who  knows  that 
there  is  no  hope  of  recovery,  feels  himself  obliged  to 
speak  more  plainly,  and  says:  I  think  it  is  my  duty  to 
inform  you  that  your  life  is  about  to  close.  I  entreat 
you  to  make  your  confession  :  for,  perhaps,  to-morrow 
you  shall  be  dead.  Why,  father,  do  you  say  so  ? 
Because,  replies  the  confessor,  so  the  physicians  have 
said.  The  poor  dying  man  then  begins  to  rage  against 
the  physicians,  and  against  his  friends.  Ah !  the  traitors 
have  deceived  me.  They  knew  my  danger,  and  have 
not  informed  me  of  it.  Ah  !  unhappy  me !  The  con 
fessor  rejoins,  and  says :  Be  not  alarmed  at  the  diffi 
culties  of  making  your  confession :  it  is  enough  to 
mention  the  most  grievous  sins  which  you  remember. 
I  will  assist  you.  Be  not  afraid.  Begin  at  once  to  tell 
your  sins.  The  dying  man  forces  himself  to  commence 
his  confession  ;  but  his  mind  is  all  confusion  ;  he  knows 


DEATH    OF    MEN    OF    THE    WORLD.  333 


not  where  to  begin  ;  he  tries  to  tell  his  sins,  but  is  not 
able  to  explain  himself.  He  feels  but  little,  and  under 
stands  still  less,  what  the  confessor  says  to  him.  O 
God  !  At  such  a  time,  and  in  such  a  state,  worldlings 
are  obliged  to  attend  to  the  most  important  of  all 
affairs — the  affair  of  eternal  salvation  !  The  confessor 
hears,  perhaps,  many  sins,  bad  habits,  injuries  done  to 
the  property  and  character  of  others,  confessions  made 
with  little  sorrow  and  with  little  purpose  of  amend 
ment.  He  assists  the  dying  man  as  well  as  he  can,  and, 
after  a  short  exhortation,  tells  him  to  make  an  act  of 
contrition.  But,  God  grant  that  he  may  not  be  as 
insensible  to  sorrow  as  the  sick  man  who  was  attended 
by  Cardinal  Bellarmine.  When  the  Cardinal  exhorted 
him  to  make  an  act  of  contrition,  he  said :  Father,  do 
not  trouble  yourself ;  these  things  are  too  high  for  me  ; 
I  do  not  understand  them.  In  the  end,  the  confessor 
absolves  the  dying  man;  but  who  knows  if  God  ab 
solves  him  ? 

9.  After  giving  him  absolution,  the  confessor  says  : 
Prepare  yourself,  now,  to  receive  Jesus  Christ  for  your 
viaticum.  It  is  now,  replies  the  sick  man,  four  or  five 
hours  after  night ;  I  will  communicate  in  the  morning. 
No  :  perhaps  in  the  morning  time  shall  be  no  more  for 
you ;  you  must  at  present  receive  the  viaticum  and 
extreme  unction.  Ah,  unhappy  me !  the  dying  man 
says  ;  am  I  then  at  the  point  of  death  ?  He  has  reason 
to  say  so  ;  for  the  practice  of  some  physicians  is,  to  put 
off  the  viaticum  till  the  patient  is  near  his  last,  and  till 
he  has  lost,  or  nearly  lost,  his  senses.  This  is  a  common 
delusion.  According  to  the  common  opinion  of  theolo 
gians,  the  viaticum  ought  always  to  be  administered 
when  there  is  danger  of  death.  It  would  be  useful  here 
to  observe,  that  Benedict  the  Fourteenth,  in  his  fifty- 
third  Bull  (in  Euchol.  Grace.,  §.  46,  ap.  Bullar,  torn.  4), 
says,  that  extreme  unction  may  be  given  whenever  the 
sick  man  "  labours  under  a  grievous  illness."  Hence, 
whenever  the  sick  can  receive  the  viaticum,  they  can 
also  receive  the  sacrament  of  extreme  unction.  It  is 
not  necessary  to  wait,  as  some  physicians  recommend, 
till  they  are  near  the  agony,  or  till  they  lose  their 
senses. 


331  SERMON    XLIV. 

10.  Behold  !  the  viaticum  arrives,  the  sick  man  hears 
the  bell.     Oh !  how  he  trembles !     The  trembling  and 
terror  increase  when  he  sees  the  priest  coming  into  the 
room  with  the  holy  sacrament,  a,nd  when  he  beholds 
around  his  bed  the  torches  of  those  who  assisted  at  the 
procession.     The  priest  recites  the  words  of  the  ritual : 
"  Accipe  frater   viaticum  corporis  Domini  nostri   Jesu 
Christi  qui  te  custodiat  ab  hoste  maligno,  et  perducat  in 
vitam  rcternum.  Amen."     Brother,  receive  the  viaticum 
of  the  body  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  that  he  may  pre 
serve  you  from  the  wicked  enemy,  and  that  he  may 
bring  you  to  eternal  life.     He  receives  the  consecrated 
host  upon  his  tongue  :  the  priest  then  gives  him  a  little 
water  to  enable  him  to  swallow  it ;  for  his  throat  is  dry 
and  parched. 

11.  The  priest  afterwards  gives  the  extreme  unction  ; 
and  begins  by  anointing  the  eyes  while  he  says  the 
following  words :  "  Per  istam  sanctam   unctionem,    et 
suam   piissimam   misericordiam,   indulgeat    tibi    Deus, 
quidquid  per  visum  deliquisti."     He  then  anoints  the 
other   senses — the   ears,   the   nostrils,   the  mouth,   the 
hands,  the  feet,  and  the  loins,  saying :  "  Quidquid  per 
aditum  deliquisti  per  odoratum,  per  gustum  et  locuti- 
onem,  per  tactum,  per  gressum,  ct  lumborum  delectati- 
onem."     And,  during  the  administration  of  the  extreme 
unction,  the  devil  is  employed  in  reminding  the  sick 
man  of  all  the  sins  he  committed  by  the  senses — by  the 
eyes,  the  ears,  the  tongue,  the  hands  ;  and  says  to  him  : 
After  so  many  sins  can  you  expect  to  be  saved  ?     Oh  ! 
•vyhat  terror  is  then  caused  by  every  one  of  those  mortal 
sins,  which  are  now  called  human  frailties,  and  which, 
worldlings  say,  God  will  not  punish !     Now  they  are 
disregarded  ;  but  then  every  mortal  sin  shall  be  a  sword 
that  will  pierce  the  soul  with  terror.     But  let  us  come 
to  what  happens  at  death. 

Third  Point.     What  happens  at  the  time  of  death. 

12.  After  having  administered  the  sacraments  the 
priest  departs,  and  leaves  the  dying  man  alone.  He 
feels  more  terror  and  alarm  after  the  sacraments  than 
before  he  received  them ;  for  he  knows  that  his  entire 
preparation  for  them  was  made  in  the  midst  of  great 


DEATH  OF  MEN  OF  THE  WORLD.         335 

confusion  of  mind  and  great  uneasiness  of  conscience. 
But  the  signs  of  approaching  death  appear :  the  sick 
man  falls  into  a  cold  sweat ;  the  sight  grows  dim,  and 
he  no  longer  knows  the  persons  that  attend  him  :  he 
has  lost  his  speech,  and  can  scarcely  breathe.  In  the 
midst  of  this  darkness  of  death  he  continues  to  say : 
"  Oh  !  that  I  had  time,  that  I  had  another  day,  with  the 
use  of  my  faculties,  to  make  a  good  confession  !"  For, 
the  unhappy  man  has  great  doubts  about  the  confession 
which  he  has  made:  he  feels  that  he  was  not  able  to 
excite  himself  to  make  a  true  act  of  sorrow.  But,  what 
time  ?  what  day  ?  "  Time  shall  be  no  longer."  (Apoc. 
x.  6.)  ^  The  confessor  has  the  book  open  to  announce  to 
him  his  departure  from  this  world.  "Profiscere,  anima 
Christiana,  de  hoc  mundo."  Depart,  Christian  soul, 
from  this  world.  The  dying  man  continues  to  say 
within  himself:  "  O  lost  years  of  my  life  !  0  fool  that 
I  have  been  !"  But  when  does  he  say  this  ?  When  the 
scene  is  about  to  close  for  him  ;  when  the  oil  in  the  lamp 
is  just  consumed;  and  when  the  great  moment  has 
arrived  on  which  his  eternal  happiness  or  misery 
depends. 

13.  But  behold  !  his  eyes  are  petrified  ;  his  body  takes 
the  posture  of  a  corpse  ;  the  extremities,  the  hands  and 
feet,  have  become  cold.     The  agony  commences;  the 
priest  begins  to  recite  the  prayers  for  the  recommenda 
tion  of  a  departing  soul.     After  having  read  the  recom 
mendation,  he  feels  the  pulse  of  the  dying  man,   and 
feels  that  it  has  ceased  to  beat.     Light,  he  says,  imme 
diately  the  blessed  candle.     O  candle  !  O  candle !  show  us 
light,  now  that  we  have  health;  for,  at  the  hour  of 
death,  thy  light  shall  serve  only  to  terrify  us  the  more. 
But  already  the  breathing  of  the  sick  man  is  not  so 
frequent;  it  has  begun  to  fail      This  is  a  sign  that 
death   is   very   near.     The   assisting   priest   raises   his 
voice,  and  says  to  the  poor  man  in  his  agony :  Say  after 
me  .^  O  God,  come  to  my  aid  ;  have  mercy  on  me.     My 
crucified  Jesus,  save  me  through  thy  passion.     Mother 
of  God,  intercede  for  me.     St.  Joseph,  St.  Michael,  the 
archangel,  my  holy  angel-guardian,  and  all  ye  saints 
in  Paradise,  pray  to  God  for  me.     Jesus,  Jesus,  Jesus 
and  Mary,  I  give  you  my  heart  and  my  soul.     But 


336  SERMON    XLIV. 


behold  the  last  signs  of  death ;  the  phlegm  is  confined 
in  the  throat ;  the  dying  man  sends  forth  feeble  moans ; 
the  tears  rush  from  his  eyes ;  finally  he  twists  the 
mouth,  he  distorts  the  eyes,  he  makes  a  few  pauses, 
and  at  the  last  opening  of  the  mouth,  he  expires  and 
dies. 

14.  The  priest  then  brings  a  candle  to  the  mouth  of 
the  dead  man,  to  try  if  he  be  still  alive  :  he  sees  that 
the  flame  is  not  moved,  and  thence  infers  that  life  is 
extinct.     He  says  :  Requiescat  in  pace.     May  he  rest  in 
peace.     And  turning  to  the  bystanders,  announces  that 
he  is  dead.     "  I  hope,"  he  adds,  "  he  is  gone  to  heaven." 
He   is  dead,   and  how  has  he  died  ?     No  one  knows 
whether  he  is  saved  or  damned ;  but  he  has  died  in  a 
great  tempest.     Such  is  the  death  of  those  unfortunate 
men  who,  during  life,   have   cared  little   about   God. 
"  Their  souls  shall  die  in  a  storm."  (Job  xxxvi.  14.)    Of 
every  one  that  dies  it  is  usual  to  say  that  "  he  is  gone  to 
heaven."     He  is  gone  to  heaven  if  he  deserved  heaven  ; 
but,  if  he  merited  hell,  he  has  gone  to  hell.     Do  all 
go  to  heaven  ?     Oh  !  how  few  enter  into  that  abode  of 
bliss ! 

15.  Before  the  body  is  cold  he  is  covered  with  a  worn- 
out  garment ;  because  it  must  soon  rot  with  him  in  the 
grave.     Two  lighted  candles  are  placed  in  the  chamber ; 
the  curtain  of  the  bed  on  which  the  dead  man  lies  is  let 
down,  and  he  is  left  alone.     The  parish  priest  is  sent  for, 
and  requested  to  come  in  the  morning  and  take  away  the 
corpse.     The  priest  comes ;  the  deceased  is  carried  to 
the  church  ;  and  this  is  his  last  journey  on  this  earth. 
The  priests  begin  to  sing  the  "  De  proiundis  clamavi  ad 
te   Domine,"   etc.      The   spectators,  who   look   at  the 
funeral  as  it  passes,  speak  of  the  deceased.     One  says : 
"  He  was  a  proud  man."      Another  :  "  Oh  !   that  he 
had  died  ten  years  ago  !"     A  third :  "  He  was  fortu 
nate  in  the  world  ;  he  made  a  great  deal  of  money  !  he 
had  a  fine  house,  but  now  he  takes  nothing  with  him/' 
And  while  they   speak  of  him  in  this  manner  he  is 
burning  in   hell.     He   arrives   at  the   church,  and  is 
placed  in  the  middle,  surrounded  by  six  candles.     Tho 
bystanders  look  at  him,  but  suddenly  turn  away  their 
eyes,  because  his  appearance  excites  horror.     The  Mass 


IMPURITY.  337 


is  sung  for  his  repose,  and  after  Mass,  the  "  Libera  ;" 
and  the  function  is  concluded  with  these  words :  Requi- 
esQat  in  pace — May  he  rest  in  peace.  May  he  rest  in 
peace,  if  he  died  in  peace  with  God  ;  but,  if  he  has  died 
in  enmity  with  God,  what  peace — what  peace  can  he 
enjoy  ?  He  shall  have  no  peace  as  long  as  God  shall  be 
God.  The  sepulchre  is  then  opened,  the  corpse  is  thrown 
into  it ;  the  grave  is  covered  with  a  tombstone  ;  and  he 
is  left  there  to  rot  and  to  be  the  food  of  worms.  It  is  thus 
that  the  scene  of  this  world  ends  for  each  of  us.  His  re 
latives  put  on  mourning ;  but  they  first  divide  among 
themselves  the  property  which  he  has  left.  They  shed 
an  occasional  tear  for  two  or  three  days,  and  afterwards 
forget  him.  And  what  shall  become  of  him  ?  If  he  be 
saved,  he  shall  be  happy  for  ever ;  if  damned,  he  must 
be  miserable  for  eternity. 


SERMON  XLY.— SIXTEENTH  SUNDAY  AFTER 
PENTECOST. 

On  impurity. 

11  And  behold,  there  was  a  certain  man  before  him,  who  had  the 
dropsy." — LUKE  xiv.  2. 

THE  man  who  indulges  in  impurity  is  like  a  person 
labouring  under  the  dropsy.  The  latter  is  so  much  tor 
mented  by  thirst,  that  the  more  he  drinks  the  more 
thirsty  he  becomes.  Such,  too,  is  the  nature  of  the 
accursed  vice  of  impurity  ;  it  is  never  satiated.  "As," 
says  St.  Thomas  of  Yillanova,  "  the  more  the  dropsical 
man  abounds  in  moisture,  the  more  he  thirsts  ;  so,  too, 
is  it  with  the  waves  of  eternal  pleasures."  I  will  speak 
to-day  of  the  vice  of  impurity,  and  will  show,  in  the 
first  point,  the  delusion  of  those  who  say  that  this  vice- 
is  but  a  small  evil ;  and,  in  the  second,  the  delusion  of 
those  who  say,  that  God  takes  pity  on  this  sin,  and  that 
he  does  not  punish  it. 

First  Point.     Delusion  of  those   who  say  that  sins 
against  purity  are  not  a  great  evil. 

1.    The   unchaste,    then,   say  that  sins  contrary  to 


338  SERMON   XLV. 


purity  are  but  a  small  evil.  Like  "  the  sow  wallowing 
in  the  mire"  ("  Sus  lota  in  volutabro  luti  "—2  Pet.  ii. 
22),  they  are  immersed  in  their  own  filth,  so  that  they 
do  not  see  the  malice  of  their  actions ;  and  therefore 
they  neither  feel  nor  abhor  the  stench  of  their  impurities, 
which  excite  disgust  and  horror  in  all  others.  Can  you, 
who  say  that  the  vice  of  impurity  is  but  a  small  evil — 
can  you,  I  ask,  deny  that  it  is  a  mortal  sin  ?  If  you 
deny  it,  you  are  a  heretic  ;  for  as  St.  Paul  says  :  "Do 
not  err.  Neither  fornicators,  nor  adulterers,  nor  the 
effeminate,  etc.,  shall  possess  the  kingdom  of  God."  (1 
Cor.  vi.  9.)  It  is  a  mortal  sin  ;  it  cannot  be  a  small 
evil.  It  is  more  sinful  than  theft,  or  detraction,  or  tbe 
violation  of  the  fast.  How  then  can  you  say  that  it  is 
not  a  great  evil  ?  Perhaps  mortal  sin  appears  to  you  to 
be  a  small  evil  ?  Is  it  a  small  evil  to  despise  the  grace 
of  God,  to  turn  your  back  upon  him,  and  to  lose  his 
friendship,  for  a  transitory,  beastly  pleasure  ? 

2.  St.  Thomas  teaches,  that  mortal  sin,  because  it  is 
an  insult  offered  to  an  infinite  God,  contains  a  certain 
infinitude  of  malice.     "A  sin  committed  against  God 
has  a  certain  infinitude,  on  account  of  the  infinitude  of 
the  Divine  Majesty."  (S.  Thorn.,  3  p.,  q.  1,  art.  2,  ad.  2.) 
Is  mortal  sin  a  small  evil?     It  is  so  great  an  evil,  that 
if  all  the  angels  and  all  the  saints,  the  apostles,  martyrs, 
and  even  the  Mother  of  God,  offered  all  their  merits  to 
atone  for  a  single  mortal  sin,  the  oblation  would  not  be 
sufficient.     No  ;  for  that  atonement  or  satisfaction  would 
be  finite  ;  but  the  debt  contracted  by  mortal  sin  is  infi 
nite,  on  account  of  the  infinite  Majesty  of  God  which  has 
been  offended.     The  hatred  which  God  bears  to  sins 
against  purity  is  great  beyond  measure.     If  a  lady  find 
her  plate  soiled  she  is  disgusted,  and  cannot  eat.     Now, 
with  what  disgust  and  indignation  must  God,  who  is 

Eurity  itself,  behold  the  filthy  impurities  by  which  his 
iw  is  violated  ?  He  loves  purity  with  an  infinite  love  ; 
and  consequently  he  has  an  infinite  hatred  for  the  sen 
suality  which  the  lewd,  voluptuous  man  calls  a  small 
evil.  Even  the  devils  who  held  a  high  rank  in  heaven 
before  their  fall  disdain  to  tempt  men  to  sins  of  the 
flesh. 

3.  St.  Thomas  says   (lib.   5,  de  Erud.  Princ.,  c.  li.), 


IMPURITY.  339 


that  Lucifer,  who  is  supposed  to  have  been  the  devil 
that  tempted  Jesus  Christ  in  the  desert,  tempted  him  to 
commit  other  sins,  but  scorned  to  tempt  him  to  offend 
against  chastity.  Is  this  sin  a  small  evil  ?  Is  it,  then, 
a  small  evil  to  see  a  man  endowed  with  a  rational  soul, 
and  enriched  with  so  many  divine  graces,  bring  himself 
by  the  sin  of  impurity  to  the  level  of  a  brute  ?  "  For 
nication  and  pleasure,"  says  St.  Jerome,  "  pervert  the 
understanding,  and  change  men  into  beasts."  (In  Oseam., 
c.  iv.)  In  the  voluptuous  and  unchaste  are  literally 
verified  the  words  of  David  :  "  And  man,  when  he  was 
in  honour,  did  not  understand :  he  is  compared  to  sense 
less  beasts,  and  is  become  like  to  them."  (Ps.  xlviii.  13.) 
St.  Jerome  says,  that  there  is  nothing  more  vile  or 
degrading  than  to  allow  oneself  to  be  conquered  by 
the  flesh.  "  Nihil  vilius  quam  vinci  a  carne."  Is  it  a 
small  evil  to  forget  God,  and  to  banish  him  from  the 
soul,  for  the  sake  of  giving  the  body  a  vile  satis 
faction,  of  which,  when  it  is  over,  you  feel  ashamed  ? 
Of  this  the  Lord  complains  by  the  Prophet  Ezechiel : 
"  Thus  saith  the  Lord  God  :  Because  thou  hast  forgotten 
me,  and  has  cast  me  off  behind  thy  back  "  (xxiii.  35.) 
St.  Thomas  says,  that  by  every  vice,  but  particularly  by 
the  vice  of  impurity,  men  are  removed  far  from  God. 
"  Per  luxuriant  maxime  recedit  a  Deo."  (In  Job  cap. 
xxxi.) 

4.  Moreover,  sins  of  impurity,  on  account  of  their 
great  number,  are  an  immense  evil.  A  blasphemer 
does  not  always  blaspheme,  but  'only  when  he  is  drunk 
or  provoked  to  anger.  The  assassin,  whose  trade  is  to 
murder  others,  does  not,  at  the  most,  commit  more  than 
eight  or  ten  homicides.  But  the  unchaste  are  guilty 
of  an  unceasing  torrent  of  sins,  by  thoughts,  by  words, 
by  looks,  by  complacencies,  and  by  touches ;  so  that, 
when  they  go  to  confession  they  find  it  impossible  to 
tell  the  number  of  the  sins  they  have  committed  against 
purity.  Even  in  their  sleep  the  devil  represents  to 
them  obscene  objects,  that,  on  awakening,  they  may 
take  delight  in  them;  and  because  they  are  made 
the  slaves  of  the  enemy,  they  obey  and  consent  to  his 
suggestions ;  for  it  is  easy  to  contract  a  habit  of  this 
sin.  To  other  sins,  such  as  blasphemy,  detraction, 


340  SERA10N    XLV. 


and  murder,  men  are  not  prone  ;  but  to  this  vice  nature 
inclines  them.  Hence  St.  Thomas  says,  that  there  is  no 
sinner  so  ready  to  offend  God  as  the  votary  of  lust  is,  on 
every  occasion  that  occurs  to  him.  "  Nullus  ad  Dei 
contemptum  promptior."  The  sin  of  impurity  brings  in 
its  train  the  sins  of  defamation,  of  theft,  hatred,  and  of 
boasting  of  its  own  filthy  abominations.  Besides,  it  or 
dinarily  involves  the  malice  of  scandal.  Other  sins,  such 
as  blasphemy,  perjury,  and  murder,  excite  horror  in 
those  who  witness  them  ;  but  this  sin  excites  and  draws 
others,  who  are  flesh,  to  commit  it,  or,  at  least,  to  commit 
it  with  less  horror. 

5.  "  Totum  hominem,"  says  St.  Cyprian,  "  agit  in 
triumphum  libidinis."  (Lib.  de  bono  pudic.)  By  lust  the 
evil  triumphs  over  the  entire  man,  over  his  body  and 
over  his  soul ;  over  his  memory,  filling  it  with  the 
remembrance  of  unchaste  delights,  in  order  to  make 
him  take  complacency  in  them ;  over  his  intellect,  to 
make  him  desire  occasions  of  committing  sin  ;  over  the 
will,  by  making  it  love  its  impurities  as  his  last  end, 
and  as  if  there  were  no  God.  "I  made,"  said  Job, 
u  a  covenant  with  my  eyes,  that  I  would  not  so  much 
as  think  upon  a  virgin.  For  what  part  should  God 
from  above  have  in  me?"  (xxxi.  1,  2.)  Job  was  afraid 
to  look  at  a  virgin,  because  he  knew  that  if  he  con 
sented  to  a  bad  thought  God  should  have  no  part  in 
him.  According  to  St.  Gregory,  from  impurity  arises 
blindness  of  understanding,  destruction,  hatred  of  God, 
and  despair  of  eternal  life.  "  De  luxuria  ccccitas 
mentis  pirccipitatio,  odium  Dei,  desperatio  futuri  srcculi 
generantur."  (S.  Greg.,  Mor.,  lib.  13.)  St.  Augustine 
says,  though  the  unchaste  may  grow  old,  the  vice  of 
impurity  does  not  grow  old  in  them.  Hence  St. 
Thomas  says,  that  there  is  no  sin  in  which  the  devil 
delights  so  much  as  in  this  sin  ;  because  there  is  no 
other  sin  to  which  nature  clings  with  so  much  tenacity. 
To  the  vice  of  impurity  it  adheres  so  firmly,  that  the 
appetite  for  carnal  pleasures  becomes  insatiable.  "  Dia- 
bolus  dicitur  gaudere  maxime  de  peccato  Iuxuria3,  quia 
est  maxim 33  adhoorentia}:  et  difficile  ab  eo  homo  eripi 
potest ;  insatiabilis  est  enim  delectabilis  appetitus."  (1 
X,  qu.  73,  a.  5,  ad.  2.)  Go  now,  and  say  that  the  sin 


IMPURITY.  341 


of  impurity  is  but  a  small  evil.  At  the  hour  of  death 
you  shall  not  say  so ;  every  sin  of  that  kind  shall  then 
appear  to  you  a  monster  of  hell.  Much  less  shall  you 
say  so  before  the  judgment-seat  of  Jesus  Christ,  who 
will  tell  you  what  the  Apostle  has  already  told  you : 
"No  fornicator,  or  unclean,  hath  inheritance  in  the 
kingdom  of  Christ  and  God."  (Eph.  v.  5.)  The  man 
who  has  lived  like  a  brnte  does  not  deserve  to  sit  with 
the  angels. 

6.  Most  beloved  brethren,  let  us  continue  to  pray  to 
God  to  deliver  us  from  this  vice  :  if  we  do  not,  we  shall 
lose  our  souls.  The  sin  of  impurity  brings  with  it 
blindness  and  obstinacy.  Every  vice  produces  darkness 
of  understanding  ;  but  impurity  produces  it  in  a  greater 
degree  than  all  other  sins.  "  Fornication,  and  wine, 
and  drunkenness  take  away  the  understanding."  (Osee 
iv.  11.)  Wine  deprives  us  of  understanding  and  reason ; 
so  does  impurity.  Hence  St.  Thomas  says,  that  the 
man  who  indulges  in  unchaste  pleasures,  does  not  live 
according  to  reason.  "  In  nullo  procedit  secundum 
judicium  rationis."  Now,  if  the  unchaste  are  deprived 
of  light,  and  no  longer  see  the  evil  which  they  do,  how 
can  they  abhor  it  and  amend  their  lives  ?  The  Prophet 
Osee  says,  that  being  blinded  by  their  own  mire,  they  do 
not  even  think  of  returning  to  God;  because  their 
impurities  take  away  from  them  all  knowledge  of  God. 
"  They  will  not  set  their  thought  to  return  to  their 
God  ;  for  the  spirit  of  fornication  is  in  the  midst  of 
them,  and  they  have  not  known  the  Lord."  (Osee  v.  4.) 
Hence  St.  Lawrence  Justinian  writes,  that  this  sin 
makes  men  forget  God.  "  Delights  of  the  flesh  induced 
forgetfulness  of  God."  And  St.  John  Damascene 
teaches  that  "  the  carnal  man  cannot  look  at  the  light 
of  truth."  Thus,  the  lewd  and  voluptuous  no  longer 
understand  what  is  meant  by  the  grace  of  God,  by 
judgment,  hell,  and  eternity.  "  Fire  hath  fallen  upon 
them,  and  they  shall  not  see  the  sun."  (Ps.  Ivii.  9.) 
Some  of  these  blind  miscreants  go  so  far  as  to  say, 
that  fornication  is  not  in  itself  sinful.  They  say,  that 
it  was  not  forbidden  in  the  Old  Law ;  and  in  support 
of  this  execrable  doctrine  they  adduce  the  words  of  the 
Lord  to  Osee :  "  Go,  take  thee  a  wife  of  fornication, 


342  SERMON    XLV. 


and  have  of  her  children  of  fornication."  (Osee  i.  2.) 
In  answer  I  say,  that  God  did  not  permit  Osee  to 
commit  fornication ;  hut  wished  him  to  take  for  his 
wife  a  woman  who  had  been  guilty  of  fornication :  and 
the  children  of  this  marriage  were  called  children  of 
fornication,  because  the  mother  had  been  guilty  of  that 
crime.  This  is,  according  to  St.  Jerome,  the  meaning 
of  the  words  of  the  Lord  to  Osee.  "  Idcirco,"  says  the 
holy  doctor,  "  Fornicationis  appelandi  sunt  filii,  quod 
sunt  de  meretrice  generati."  But  fornication  was  always 
forbidden,  under  pain  of  mortal  sin,  in  the  Old,  as  well 
as  in  the  New  Law.  St.  Paul  says :  "  No  fornicator 
or  unclean,  hath  inheritance  in  the  kingdom  of  Christ 
and  of  God."  (Eph.  v.  5.)  Behold  the  impiety  to  which 
the  blindness  of  such  sinners  carry  them  !  From  this 
blindness  it  arises,  that  though  they  go  to  the  sacraments, 
their  confessions  are  null  for  want  of  true  contrition ;  for 
how  is  it  possible  for  them  to  have  true  sorrow,  when 
they  neither  know  nor  abhor  their  sins  ? 

7.  The  vice  of  impurity  also  brings  with  it  obstinacy. 
To  conquer  temptations,  particularly  against  chastity, 
continual  prayer  is  necessary.  "  Watch  ye,  and  pray, 
that  ye  enter  not  into  temptation."  (Mark  xiv.  38.) 
But  how  will  the  unchaste,  who  are  always'seeking  to  be 
tempted,  pray  to  God  to  deliver  them  from  temptation  ? 
They  sometimes,  as  St.  Augustine  confessed  of  himself, 
even  abstain  from  prayer,  through  fear  of  being  heard 
and  cured  of  the  disease,  which  they  wish  to  continue. 
"I  feared,"  said  the  saint,  "that  you  would  soon  hear 
and  heal  the  disease  of  concupiscence,  which  I  wished  to 
be  satiated,  rather  than  extinguished."  (Conf.,  lib.  8, 
cap.  vii.)  St.  Peter  calls  this  vice  an  unceasing  sin. 
"  Having  eyes  full  of  adultery  and  sin  that  ceaseth  not." 
(2  Pet.  ii.  14.)  Impurity  is  called  an  unceasing  sin  on 
account  of  the  obstinacy  which  it  induces.  Some 
person  addicted  to  this  vice  says :  /  always  confess  the 
sin.  So  much  the  worse  ;  for  since  you  always  relapse 
into  sin,  these  confessions  serve  to  make  you  persevere 
in  the  sin.  The  fear  of  punishment  is  diminished  by 
saying :  /  ahcays  confess  the  sin.  If  you  felt  that  this 
sin  certainly  merits  hell,  you  would  scarcely  say :  I 
will  not  give  it  up  ;  I  do  not  care  if  I  ain  damned. 


IMPURITY. 


343 


But  the  devil  deceives  you.  Commit  this  sin,  he  says  ; 
for  you  afterwards  confess  it.  But,  to  make  a  good 
confession  of  your  sins,  you  must  have  true  sorrow  of 
the  heart,  and  a  firm  purpose  to  sin  no  more.  Where 
are  this  sorrow  and  this  firm  purpose  of  amendment, 
when  you  always  return  to  the  vomit?  If  you  had 
had  these  dispositions,  and  had  received  sanctifying 
grace  at  your  confessions,  you  should  not  have  relapsed, 
or  at  least  you  should  have  abstained  for  a  consider 
able  time  from  relapsing.  You  have  always  fallen  back 
into  sin  in  eight  or  ten  days,  and  perhaps  in  a  shorter 
time,  after  confession.  What  sign  is  this  ?  It  is  a  sign 
that  you  were  always  in  enmity  with  God.  If  a  sick 
man  instantly  vomits  the  medicine  which  he  takes,  it  is 
a  sign  that  his  disease  is  incurable. 

8.  St.  Jerome  says,  that  the  vice  of  impurity,  when 
habitual,  will  cease  when  the  unhappy  man  who  in 
dulges  in  it  is  cast  into  the  fire  of  hell.  "  0  infernal 
fire,  lust,  whose  fuel  is  gluttony,  whose  sparks  are  brief 
conversations,  whose  end  is  hell."  The  unchaste  be 
come  like  the  vulture  that  waits  to  be  killed  by  the 
fowler,  rather  than  abandon  the  rottenness  of  the  dead 
bodies  on  which  it  feeds.  This  is  what^  happened  to  a 
young  female,  who,  after  having  lived  in  the  habit  of 
sin  with  a  young  man,  fell  sick,  and  appeared  to  be 
converted.  At  the  hour  of  death  she  asked  leave  of 
her  confessor  to  send  for  the  young  man,  in  order  to 
exhort  him  to  change  his  life  at  the  sight  of  her  death. 
The  confessor  very  imprudently  gave  the  permission, 
and  taught  her  what  she  should  say  to  her  accomplice 
in  sin.  But  listen  to  what  happened.  As  soon  as  she 
saw  him,  she  forgot  her  promise  to  the  confessor  and 
the  exhortation  she  was  to  give  to  the  young  man. 
And  what  did  she  do  ?  She  raised  herself  up,  sat  in 
bed,  stretched  her  arms  to  him,  and  said :  Friend,  I 
have  always  loved  you,  and  even  now,  at  the  end  of  my 
life,  I  love  you  :  I  see  that,  on  your  account,  I  shall  go 
to  hell :  but  I  do  not  care  :  I  am  willing,  for  the  love  of 
you,  to  be  damned.  After  these  words  she  fell  back  on 
the  bed  and  expired.  These  facts  are  related  by  Father 
Segneri  (Christ.  Istr.  Bag.,  xxiv.,  n.  10.)  Oh !  how 
difficult  is  it  for  a  person  who  has  contracted  a  habit  of 


344  SERMON    XLV. 


this  vice,  to  amend  his  life  and  return  sincerely  to  God ! 
how  difficult  is  it  for  him  not  to  terminate  this  habit  in 
hell,  like  the  unfortunate  young  woman  of  whom  I  have 
just  spoken. 

Second  Point.     Illusion  of  those  who  say  that  God 
takes  pity  on  this  sin. 

9.  The  votaries  of  lust  say  that  God  takes  pity  on 
this  sin  ;  hut  such  is  not  the  language  of  St.  Thomas 
of  Yillanova.     He  says,  that  in  the  sacred  Scriptures 
\ve  do  not  read  of  any  sin  so  severely  chastised  as  the 
sin  of  impurity.     "  Luxuriic  facinus  pro)  aliis  punitum 
legimus."  (Serm.  iv.,  Dom.  1,  Quadrag.)     We  find  in  the 
Scriptures,  that  in  punishment  of  this  sin,  a  deluge  of 
fire  descended  from  heaven  on  four  cities,  and,  in  an 
instant,  consumed  not  only  the  inhabitants,  but  even 
the  very  stones.     "  And  the  Lord  rained  upon  Sodom 
and  Gomorrah  brimstone  and  fire  from  the  Lord  out  of 
heaven.     And  he  destroyed  these  cities,  and  all  things 
that  spring  from  the  earth."  (Gen.  xix.  24.)     St.  Peter 
Damian  relates,  that  a  man   and  a  woman  who  had 
sinned  against  impurity,  were  found  burnt  and  black  as 
a  cinder. 

10.  Salvian  writes,  that  it  was  in  punishment  of  the 
sin  of  impurity  that  God  sent  on  the  earth  the  universal 
deluge,  which  was  caused  by  continued  rain  for  forty 
days  and  forty  nights.     In  this  deluge  the  waters  rose 
fifteen  cubits  above  the  tops  of  the  highest  mountains ; 
and  only  eight  persons  along  with  Noah  were  saved  in 
the  ark.     The  rest  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  earth,  who 
were  more  numerous  then  than  at  present,  were  pun 
ished  with  death  in  chastisement  of  the  vice  of  im 
purity.     Mark  the  words  of  the  Lord  in  speaking  of 
this  chastisement  which  he  inflicted  on  that  sin  :  "  My 
spirit  shall  not  remain  in  man  for  ever ;  because  he  is 
flesh."    (Gen.  vi.   3.)     "That  is,"  says  Liranus,   "too 
deeply  involved  in   carnal   sins."      The  Lord  added  : 
"  For  it  repenteth  me  that  I  made  man."  (Gen.  vi.  7.) 
The  indignation  of  God  is  not  like  ours,  which  clouds 
the  mind,  and  drives  us  into  excesses :  his  wrath  is  a 
judgment  perfectly  just  and   tranquil,  by  which  God 
punishes  and  repairs  the  disorders  of  sin.     But  to  make 


IMPURITY.  345 


us  understand  the  intensity  of  his  hatred  for  the  sin  of 
impurity,  he  represents  himself  as  if  sorry  for  having 
created  man,  who  offended  him  so  grievously  by  this 
vice.  "We,  at  the  present  day,  see  more  severe  temporal 
punishment  inflicted  on  this  than  on  any  other  sin. 
Go  into  the  hospitals,  and  listen  to  the  shrieks  of  so 
many  young  men,  who,  in  punishment  of  their  impuri 
ties,  are  obliged  to  submit  to  the  severest  treatment 
and  to  the  most  painful  operations,  and  who,  if  they 
escape  death,  are,  according  to  the  divine  threat,  feeble, 
and  subject  to  the  most  excruciating  pain  for  the 
remainder  of  their  lives.  "  Thou — hast  cast  me  off 
behind  thy  back ;  bear  thou  also  thy  wickedness  and 
thy  fornications."  (Ezec.  xxiii.  35.) 

11.  St.  Remigius  writes  that,  if  children.be  excepted, 
the  number  of  adults  that  are  saved  is  few,  on  account 
of  the  sins  of  the  flesh.     "  Exceptis  parvulis  ex  adultis 
propter  vitiam  carnis  pauci  salvantur."   (Apud  S.  Cypr. 
de  bono  pudic.)     In  conformity  with  this  doctrine,  it  was 
revealed  to  a  holy  soul,  that  as  pride  has  filled  hell  with 
devils,  so  impurity  fills  it  with  men.  (Col.,  disp.  ix.,  ex. 
192.)     St.   Isidore  assigns  the  reason.     He  says  that 
there  is  no  vice  which  so  much  enslaves  men  to  the 
devil  as  impurity.     "  Magis  per   luxuriam,   humanum 
genus  subditur  diabolo,   quam  per  aliquod  aliud."  (S. 
lad.,  lib.  2,  c.  xxxix.)     Hence,  St.  Augustine  says,  that 
with  regard  to  this  sin,  "  the  combat  is  common  and  the 
victory  rare."     Hence  it  is,  that  on  account  of  this  sin 
hell  is  filled  with  souls. 

12.  All  that  I  have  said  on  this  subject  has  been  said, 
not  that  any  one  present,  who  has  been  addicted  to  the 
vice  of  impurity,  may  be  driven  to  despair,  but  that 
such  persons  may  be  cured.     Let  us,  then,  come  to  the 
remedies.     These  are  two  great  remedies — prayer,  and 
the  flight  of  dangerous    occasions.      Prayer,   says   St. 
Gregory  of  Nyssa,  is  the  safeguard  of  chastity.    "  Oratio 
pudicitiae  presidium  et  tutamen  est."  (De  Orat.)     And 
before  him,  Solomon,  speaking  of  himself,  said  the  same. 
"  And  as  I  knew  that  I  could  not  otherwise  be  continent, 
except  God  gave  it... I  went  to  the  Lord,  and  besought 
him."  (Wis.  viii.  21.)     Thus,  it  is  impossible  for  us  to 
conquer  this  vice  without  God's  assistance.     Hence,  as 


346  SERMON    XI, V. 


soon  as  temptation  against  chastity  presents  itself,  the 
remedy  is,  to  turn  instantly  to  God  for  help,  and  to 
repeat  several  times  the  most  holy  names  of  Jesus  and 
Mary,  which  have  a  special  virtue  to  banish  bad 
thoughts  of  that  kind.  I  have  said  immediately,  with 
out  listening  to,  or  beginning  to  argue  with  the  tempta 
tion.  When  a  bad  thought  occurs  to  the  mind,  it  is 
necessary  to  shake  it  off  instantly,  as  you  would  a  spark 
that  flies  from  the  fire,  and  instantly  to  invoke  aid  from 
Jesus  and  Mary. 

13.  As  to  the  flight  of  dangerous  occasions,  St.  Philip 
!N"eri  used  to  say  that  cowards — that  is,  they  who  fly 
from  the  occasions — gain  the  victory.  Hence  you  must, 
in  the  first  place,  keep  a  restraint  on  the  eyes,  and  must 
abstain  from  looking  at  young  females.  Otherwise,  says 
St.  Thomas,  you  can  scarcely  avoid  the  sin.  "  Luxuria 
vitari  vix  protest  nisi  vitatur  aspectus  mulieris  pulchrae." 
(S.  Thorn.  1,  2,  qu.  167,  a.  2.)  Hence  Job  said :  "  I 
made  a  covenant  with  my  eyes,  that  I  would  not  so  much 
as  think  upon  a  virgin"  (xxxi.  1).  He  was  afraid  to 
look  at  a  virgin  ;  because  from  looks  it  is  easy  to  pass  to 
desires,  and  from  desires  to  acts.  St.  Francis  de  Sales 
used  to  say,  that  to  look  at  a  woman  does  not  do  so 
much  evil  as  to  look  at  her  a  second  time.  If  the  devil 
has  not  gained  a  victory  the  first,  he  will  gain  the  second 
time.  And  if  it  be  necessary  to  abstain  from  looking  at 
females,  it  is  much  more  necessary  to  avoid  conversation 
with  them/'  "Tarry  not  among  women."  (Eccl.  xlii.  12.) 
We  should  be  persuaded  that,  in  avoiding  occasions  of 
this  sin,  no  caution  can  be  too  great.  Hence  we  must 
be  always  fearful,  and  fly  from  them.  "  A  wise  man 
feareth  and  declineth  from  evil ;  a  fool  is  confident." 
(Prov.  xiv.  16.)  A  wise  man  is  timid,  and  flies  away  ; 
a  fool  is  confident,  and  falls. 


LOVE    OF    GOD.  347 


SERMON  XLVL— SEVENTEENTH  SUNDAY 
AFTER  PENTECOST. 

On  the  love  of  God. 

"Thou  shalt  love  the  Lord  thy  God  with  thy  whole  heart." — MATT. 
xxii.  37. 

"  BUT  one  thing  is  necessary."  (Luke  x.  42.)  What  is 
this  one  thing  necessary  ?  It  is  not  necessary  to  acquire 
riches,  nor  to  ohtain  dignities,  nor  to  gain  a  great  name. 
The  only  thing  necessary  is  to  love  God.  Whatever  is 
not  done  for  the  love  of  God  is  lost.  This  is  the  greatest 
and  the  first  commandment  of  the  divine  law.  To  the 
Pharisee  who  asked  what  is  the  greatest  commandment 
of  the  law,  Jesus  Christ  answered  :  "  Thou  shalt  love 
the  Lord  thy  God  with  thy  whole  heart ....  This  is  the 
greatest  and  first  commandment."  (Matt.  xxii.  37,  38.) 
But  this,  which  is  the  greatest  of  the  commandments,  is 
the  most  despised  by  men  :  there  are  few  who  fulfil  it. 
The  greater  part  of  men  love  their  relatives,  their  friends, 
and  even  brute  animals,  but  do  not  love  God.  Of  these 
St.  John  says  that  they  have  not  life — that  they  are 
dead.  "  He  that  loveth  not,  abideth  in  death."  (L  John 
iii.  14.)  St.  Bernard  writes,  that  the  reward  of  a  soul 
is  estimated  by  the  measure  of  her  love  for  God.  "  Quan- 
titas  anima3  aistimatur  de  mensura  charitatis  quani 
habet."  (Serm.  xxvii.,  in  Cant.)  Let  us  consider  to-day, 
in  the  first  point,  how  dear  this  command  of  loving  God 
with  our  whole  heart  ought  to  be  to  us ;  and,  in  the 
second,  what  we  ought  to  do  in  order  to  love  God  with 
our  whole  heart. 


First  Point.  How  dear  this  command  of  loving  God 
with  our  whole  heart  ought  to  be  to  us. 

1.  What  object  more  noble,  more  magnificent,  more 
powerful,  more  rich,  more  beautiful,  more  bountiful, 
more  merciful,  more  grateful,  more  amiable,  or  more 
loving,  than  himself,  could  God  give  us  to  love  ?  Who 
more  noble  than  God  ?  Some  boast  of  the  nobility  of 
their  family  for  five  hundred  or  a  thousand  years  ;  but 
the  nobility  of  God  is  eternal.  He  is  the  Lord  of  all. 


348  SERMON   XL VI. 


Before  God  all  the  angels  in  heaven  or  all  the  nobles 
on  earth  are  but  as  a  drop  of  water  or  a  grain  of  dust. 
"  Behold  the  Gentiles  are  as  a  drop  of  a  bucket — behold 
the  islands  are  as  a  little  dust/'  (Isa.  xl.  15.)  Who  more 
powerful  than  God  ?  He  can  do  whatsoever  he  wills. 
By  an  act  of  his  will  he  has  created  this  world,  and  by 
another  act  he  can  destroy  it  when  he  pleases.  Who 
more  wealthy  ?  He  possesses  all  the  riches  of  heaven 
and  earth.  Who  more  beautiful  ?  Before  the  beauty 
of  God  all  the  beauties  of  creatures  disappear.  Who 
more  bountiful  ?  St.  Augustine  says,  that  God  has  a 
greater  desire  to  do  good  to  us  than  we  have  to  receive 
it.  Who  more  merciful  ?  If  the  most  impious  sinner 
on  earth  humble  himself  before  God,  and  repent  of  his 
sins,  God  instantly  pardons  and  embraces  him.  Who 
more  grateful  ?  He  does  not  leave  unrewarded  the 
smallest  act  we  perform  for  his  sake.  Who  more 
amiable  ?  God  is  so  amiable  that,  by  barely  seeing 
and  loving  him  in  heaven,  the  saints  feel  a  joy  which 
makes  them  perfectly  happy  and  content  for  all  eternity. 
The  greatest  of  the  torments  of  the  damned  arise  from 
knowing  that  this  God  is  so  amiable,  and  that  they 
cannot  love  him. 

2.  Finally,  who  more  loving  than  God  ?  In  the  Old 
Law,  men  might  doubt  whether  God  loved  them  with  a 
tender  love  ;  but,  after  seeing  him  die  on  a  cross  for  us, 
how  can  we  doubt  of  the  tenderness  and  the  ardent 
affection  with  which  he  loves  us  ?  Let  us  raise  our  eyes 
and  look  at  Jesus,  the  true  Son  of  God,  fastened  with 
nails  to  a  gibbet,  and  let  us  consider  the  intensity  of  the 
love  which  he  bears  us.  The  cross,  the  wounds,  says 
St.  Bernard,  cry  out,  and  proclaim  to  us  that  he  truly 
loves  us.  "  Clamat  crux,  clamat  vulnus,  quod  ipse  vere 
dilexit."  And  what  more  could  he  do  to  convince  us  of 
his  great  love  than  to  lead  a  life  of  sorrow  for  thirty- 
three  years,  and  afterwards  die  in  torments  on  the  infa 
mous  tree  of  the  cross,  in  order  to  wash  away  our  sins 
with  his  own  blood?  "  Christ  also  hath  loved  us,  and 
hath  delivered  himself  up  for  us."  (Eph.  v.  2.)  "  Who 
hath  loved  us,  and  washed  us  from  our  sins  in  his  own 
blood."  (Apoc.  i.  5.)  "  How,"  says  St.  Philip  Neri,  "  is 
it  possible  for  him  who  believes  in  God  to  love  anything 


LOVE    OF    GOD.  349 


but  God  ?"  Contemplating  God's  love  towards  men,  St. 
Mary  Magdalene  de  Pazzi  began  one  day  to  ring  the 
bell,  saying  that  she  wished  to  invite  all  the  nations  of 
the  earth  to  love  so  loving  a  God.  St.  Francis  de  Sales 
used  to  say  with  tears  :  "To  love  our  God  it  would  be 
necessary  to  have  an  infinite  love  ;  and  we  throw  away 
our  love  on  vain,  contemptible  things." 

3.  0  !  inestimable  value  of  divine  love,  which  makes 
us  rich  before  God  !  It  is  the  treasure  by  which  we  gain 
his  friendship.  "  She  is  an  infinite  treasure  to  men, 
which  they  that  use  become  the  friends  of  God."  (Wis. 
vii.  14.)  The  only  thing  we  ought  to  fear,  says  St. 
Gregory  of  Nyssa  (de  Vita  Moysis),  is  the  loss  of  God's 
friendship  ;  and  the  only  object  of  our  desires  should  be 
its  attainment.  "  Unum  terribile,  arbitror,  ab  amicitia 
Dei  repelli :  unum  solum  expectibile,  amicitia  Dei."  It 
is  love  that  obtains  the  friendship  of  God.  Hence, 
according  to  St.  Lawrence  Justinian,  by  love  the  poor 
become  rich,  and  without  love  the  rich  are  poor.  "  No 
greater  riches  than  to  have  charity.  In  charity  the  poor 
man  is  rich,  and  without  charity  the  rich  man  is  poor." 
(S.  Laur.  Just,  in  Matt.  xiii.  44.)  How  great  is  the  joy 
which  a  person  feels  in  thinking  that  he  is  loved  by  a 
man  of  exalted  rank !  But  how  much  greater  must  be 
the  consolation  which  a  soul  derives  from  the  conviction 
that  God  loves  her !  "  I  love  them  that  love  me." 
(Prov.  viii.  17.)  In  a  soul  that  loves  God  the  Three 
Persons  of  the  Adorable  Trinity  dwell.  "  If  any  one 
love  me  he  will  keep  my  word ;  and  my  Father  will 
love  him  ;  and  we  will  come  to  him,  and  will  make  our 
abode  with  him."  (John  xiv.  23.)  St.  Bernard  writes, 
that  among  all  the  virtues  charity  is  the  one  that  unites 
us  to  God.  Charitas  est  virtus  conjungens  nos  Deo." 
St.  Catherine  of  Bologna  used  to  say,  that  love  is  the 
golden  chain  that  binds  the  soul  to  God.  St.  Augustine 
says,  that  "  love  is  a  joint  connecting  the  lover  with  the 
beloved."  Hence,  were  God  not  immense,  where  should 
he  be  found  ?  Find  a  soul  that  loves  God,  and  there 
God  is  certainly  found.  Of  this  St.  John  assures  us. 
(i  He  that  abideth  in  charity  abideth  in  God,  and  God 
in  him."  (1  John  iv.  16.)  A  poor  man  loves  riches,  but 
he  does  not  therefore  enjoy  them  ;  he  may  love  a  throne, 


350  SERMON    XLVI. 


but  he  does  not  therefore  possess  a  kingdom.  But  the 
man  that  loves  God  possesses  God.  "  He  abideth  in 
God,  and  God  in  him/' 

4.  Besides,  St.  Thomas  says  (Tr.  de  Virt,  art.  3),  that 
love  draws  in  its  train  all  other  virtues,  and  directs  them 
all  to  unite  us  more  closely  to  God.     Hence,  because 
from  charity  all  virtues  are  born,  St.  Lawrence  Justinian 
called  it  the  mother  of  virtues.     Hence,  St.  Augustine 
used  to  say:     "  Love,  and  do  what  you  wish."   He  that 
loves  God  can  only  do  what  is  good  ;  if  he  does  evil,  he 
shows  that  he  has  ceased  to  love  God.     And  when  he 
ceases  to  love  him,  all  things  can  profit  him  nothing.   If, 
said  the  Apostle,  I  give  all  my  possessions  to  the  poor, 
and  my  body  to  the  flames,  and  have  not  charity,  I  am 
nothing.     "  And  if  I  should  distribute  all  my  goods  to 
feed  the  poor,  and  if  I  should  deliver  my  body  to  be 
burned,  and  have  not  charity,  it  profiteth  me  nothing." 
(1  Cor.  xiii.  3.) 

5.  Love  also  prevents  us  from  feeling  the  pains  of  this 
life.     St.  Bonaventure  says,  that  the  love  of  God  is  like 
honey  ;  it  sweetens  things  the  most  bitter.     And  what 
more  sweet  to  a  soul  that  loves  God  than  to  suffer  for 
him  ?     She  knows  that  by  cheerfully  embracing  suffer 
ings  she  pleases  God,  and  that  her  pains  shall  be  the 
brightest  jewels  in  her  crown  in  Paradise.     And  who  is 
there  that  will  not  willingly  suffer  and  die  in  imitation 
of  Jesus  Christ,  who  has  gone  before  us,  carrying  his 
cross,  to  offer  himself  in  sacrifice  for  the  love  of  us,  and 
inviting  us  to  follow  his  example  ?     "If  any  man  will 
come  after  me,  let  him  take  up  his  cross  and  follow  me." 
(Matt.  xvi.  24.)     For  this  purpose  he  has  condescended 
to  humble  himself  to  death,  and  to  the  opprobrious  death 
of  the  cross,  for  the  love  of  us.     "  He  humbled  himself, 
becoming  obedient  unto  death,  even  to  the  death  of  the 
cross."  (Phil.  ii.  8.) 

Second  Point  What  we  ought  to  do  in  order  to  love 
God  with  our  whole  heart. 

G.  St.  Teresa  used  to  say,  that  in  calling  a  soul  to  his 
love,  God  bestows  upon  her  an  exceedingly  great  favour. 
Since,  then,  most  beloved  brethren,  God  calls  us  all  to 
his  love,  let  us  thank  and  love  him  with  our  whole 


LOVE   OF    GOD.  351 


heart.  Because  he  loves  us  intensely,  he  wishes  to  he 
tenderly  loved  by  us.  "  When/'  says  St.  Bernard, 
"  God  loves,  he  desires  nothing  else  than  to  he  loved  ; 
for  he  loves  only  that  he  may  be  loved."  (Serm.  Ixiii.,  in 
Cant.)  It  was  to  inflame  us  with  his  divine  love  that 
the  Eternal  Word  descended  from  heaven.  So  he  him 
self  has  declared  ;  adding,  that  he  only  desires  to  see 
this  fire  lighted  up  in  our  hearts.  "  I  am  come  to  cast 
fire  on  the  earth,  and  what  will  I  but  that  it  be  kindled?" 
(Luke  xii.  49.)  Let  us  now  see  what  means  we  ought 
to  adopt  in  order  to  love  God. 

7.  In  the  first  place,  we  ought  to  guard  against  every 
sin,  whether  mortal  or  venial.     "  If/'  says  Jesus  Christ, 
"  any  one  love  me,  he  will  keep  my  word."  (John  xiv. 
23.)     The  first  mark  of  love  is  to  endeavour  not  to  give 
the  smallest  displeasure  to  the  beloved.     How  can  he  be 
said  to  love  God  with  his  whole  heart,  who  is  not  afraid 
to  commit  deliberate  venial  offences  against  God  ?     St. 
Teresa  used  to  say  to  her  spiritual  children  :  "  From 
deliberate  sin,  however  small,  may  God  deliver  you." 
But  some  will  say  :  Yenial  sin  is  a  small  evil.     Is  it  a 
small  evil  to  displease  a  God  who  is  so  good,  and  who 
loves  us  so  tenderly  ? 

8.  In  the  second  place,  to  love  God  with  the  whole 
heart,  it  is  necessary  to  have  a  great  desire  to  love  him. 
Holy  desires  are  the  wings  with  which  we  fly  to  God ; 
for,  as  St.  Lawrence  Justinian  says,  a  good  desire  gives 
us  strength  to  go  forward,  and  lightens  the  labour  of 
walking  in  the  way  of  God.  "  Yires  subministrat,  posnam 
exhibet  leviorem."     According  to  the  spiritual  masters, 
he  that  does  not  advance  in  the  way  of  the  Lord  goes 
back  ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  God  cheerfully  gives  him 
self  to  those  who  seek  after  him.     "  The  Lord  is  good  to 
the  soul  that  seeketh  him."  (Lamen.  iii.  25.)     He  fills 
with  his  own  good  things  all  who  desire  him  through 
love.     "  He  hath  filled  the  hungry  with  good  things." 
(Luke  i.  53.) 

9.  In  the  third  place,  it  is  necessary  to  resolve  coura 
geously,  to  arrive  at  the  perfect  love  of  God.     Some 
persons  desire  to  belong  entirely  to  God,  but  do  not 
resolve  to  adopt  the  means.     It  is  of  them  the  Wise 
Man  says,  "  Desires  kill  the  soul."  (Prov.  xxi.  25.)     I 


352  SERMON    XLVI. 


would  wish,  they  say,  to  become  a  saint ;  but  still,  with 
all  their  desires,"  they  never  advance  a  single  step.  St. 
Teresa  used  to  say,  that  "  of  these  irresolute  souls  the 
devil  is  never  afraid."  Because,  if  they  do  not  resolve 
sincerely  to  give  themselves  to  God  without  reserve, 
they  shall  always  continue  in  the  same  imperfections. 
But,  on  the  other  hand,  the  saint  says,  that  God  wishes 
only  from  us  a  true  resolution  to  become  saints  ;  he  him 
self  will  do  the  rest.  If,  then,  we  wish  to  love  God 
with  our  whole  heart,  we  must  resolve  to  do  without 
reserve  what  is  most  pleasing  to  him,  and  to  begin  at 
once  to  put  our  hands  to  the  work.  "  Whatsoever  thy 
hand  is  able  to  do,  do  it  earnestly."  (Eccl.  ix.  10.)  What 
you  can  do  to-day  do  not  put  off  till  to-morrow  ;  do  it 
as  soon  as  possible.  A  certain  nun  in  the  convent  of 
Tori  degli  Speechi,  in  Rome,  led  a  tepid  life ;  but,  being 
called  by  God,  in  a  retreat,  to  his  perfect  love,  she 
resolved  to  correspond  immediately  to  the  divine  call, 
and  said  to  her  director,  with  a  sincere  resolution : 
"  Father,  I  wish  to  become  a  saint,  and  to  become  one 
immediately."  And  from  that  moment,  with  the  aid  of 
God's  grace,  she  lived  and  died  a  saint.  We  must,  then, 
resolve  to  acquire  the  perfect  love  of  God,  and  must 
immediately  adopt  the  means  of  becoming  saints. 

10.  The 'first  means  is,  to  detach  the  heart  from  all 
creatures,  and  to  banish  from  the  soul  every  affection 
which  is  not  for  God.  The  first  question  which  the 
ancient  fathers  of  the  desert  ^  put  to  every  one  who 
sought  admission  into  their  society  was:  "  Do  you  bring 
an  empty  heart,  that  the  Holy  Ghost  may  be  able  to  fill 
it  ?"  If  the  world  be  not  expelled  from  the  heart,  God 
cannot  enter  it.  St.  Teresa  used  to  say:  "Detach  the 
heart  from  creatures  ;  seek  God,  and  you  shall  find  him." 
St.  Augustine  writes,  that  the  Romans  worshipped  thirty 
thousand  gods ;  but,  among  these  ^  gods  the  Koman 
Senate  refused  to  admit  Jesus  Christ.  Because,  said 
they,  he  is  a  proud  God,  who  requires  that  he  alone 
should  be  adored.  This  they  had  reason  to  say  ;  for  our 
God  wishes  to  possess  our  whole  souls.  He  is,  as  St. 
Jerome  says,  a  jealous  God.  "